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  1. 4 points
    It was a beautiful day in Elwynn Forest. The birds were chirping, the cows were mooing as they wandered about unfettered... and the sewer crocodiles that had escaped to the sewage pond outside of Stormwind dragged a particularly careless one to its untimely death. At one of the local farmsteads, a seasonal worker was getting fired. Amidst the relative tranquility and the goings on of the kingdom's residents, a newcomer marched with purpose down the road. With eyes that gleamed with ferocity, upturned nose held high, and scales that shined in the sun, a brown spotted colored Sethrak moved towards the city's gates with purpose! Only to come face to face with a patrol of mounted riders, tasked with protecting the kingdom from the Horde and other threats who had, as of late, invaded and sowed chaos at an unacceptable rate. "HALT, SNAKE!" The patrol's captain motioned for his soldiers to stop, and halfway surround them, "You will go no further!" "HOW DARE!" The Sethrak yelled back, its neck instinctively flattening to make the back of its head and neck wider... presumably to look fierce, "Hoomans go away! I has messij for king!" There was an awkward moment of silence as the captain was... in essence dumbstruck with how spoken words could somehow be misspelled, but he pushed the befuddlement aside, "Stand down and surrender, and you will not b-" "GO 'WAY HOOMAN! AM DANGRUS!" The Sethrak huffed and puffed breaths in, and began to hiss, "EMPIRE DEMANZ SURR-ENDR!" "...um, sir?" One of the rookie patrolman spoke up after another few moments of awkward, befuddled silence, "What is it doing?" "How am I supposed to know? You and you, get off your horses and arrest it." The captain pointed to the rookie and one other guard, who looked at each other, shrugged, and dismounted. "NO TUCH!" The Sethrak hissed louder, tensing a puffing up even more, "I BITE!" The rookie and his partner, despite being faced with this... weird unknown, couldn't help but snort as a laugh escaped them. Undeterred, they began to approach, which caused the Sethrak to become even more defensive, coiling back into a defensive posture until!... ...it collapsed to the ground in a hissing, writhing heap. "What in the... Sir?!" One of the still mounted guards looked alarmed, concerned, but ultimately confounded as she watched the snake man flail about in the dirt in what looked to be a horribly acted death-throe. The guards backed up their horses, but otherwise all stayed where they were, as for the next minute or so the snake person kept on its death act, until finally laying still in a contorted pose... mouth agape, and forked tongue lolling off to the side. "I've had enough of this. Get that damn thing to the stockades and make SI:7 deal with it." The captain annoyedly ordered, turning his steed around back to the city gates, and motioning for the other mounted guards to follow. "You heard 'im." One of the dismounted guards went over, grabbing the Sethrak by its robe collar to try and force it to stand up, but finding it floppy and limp, though not in an actually dead way. Starting to get irritated, he tried to force it to turn over, only to express further frustration as it flipped back belly up, and did it again when he tried to right it once again. "For the love of the light, just throw it over your horse and let's go." "arrrggghh.... no tuch!" The Sethrak quietly hissed and muttered, oofing as it did get thrown over the back of one of the patrol horses, to be carted away into the city's gates, oggled at by the city's denizens, and then locked up to be attended to later.
  2. 3 points
    The constant pounding filled her ears. Julilee lifted her head as the wind rose for a moment, letting it catch the loose strands of pale hair around her face. Beneath her feet, the coarse sand shifted, cut into strange shapes and angles. It was dyed orange and red in the early morning light, and she turned her head to look behind her briefly at the rising sun. The sky, also red and orange and pink, was always a welcome sight, even after having been back aboveground this long. Then she turned her attention back to what lay before her. The pounding was the combination of the screaming, stomping audience and drums. The sands were the floor of the arena and weren't just red from the sunrise, but from dried blood, and were grooved not by the elements but by battles. The sun was rising over the bleachers and the match was about to begin. She drew Mercy. The sword gave away her identity to those who recognized its jagged silhouette, but that turned out to be vanishingly few. So far, she could count them on one hand. Memories were short in war. The white mask that covered the lower half of her face did enough to disguise her identity otherwise, along with the absence of any of the other features that had once marked her identity, such as her once-dark hair, former purple armor, and tabard. Mostly the tabard. That had been the majority of what people had ever seen when they looked at her anyway. To be fair, she was the one who had redesigned it and raised its banner once more. "Juriel! Juriel!" Now she let her image become whatever it may. The gate across the arena opened with slow, menacing clanks that were nearly drowned out as the crowd rose in volume commensurately. Juli stood waiting, the tip of Mercy pointed at the sand. She held it in one hand and nothing in the other. Carrying a shield would only burden her now. The creature that came out was not one of the largest she had faced. The mad brutosaur had been that, and it had cemented her as the preeminent fighter in this arena circuit. But it was one she had never fought before. It slunk out, wary of the noisy crowd and bright, open space, but soon focused on Juli. And then it was followed by another. Two adversaries. The crowd, thrilled by this twist, became all but deafening. The creatures' blue-gray bodies were lined from nose to tail-tip in spikes, and long tusks protruded from their mouths. Their forequarters were heavily muscled for digging, pouncing, and shredding, but their lean bodies were built for speed nonetheless. Lean, but at least twice her size in weight and mass each. Sabertusks. Julilee was given pause as she studied them, knowing that Zandalari druids took on the same form, but in a few moments it became apparent that there was no hint of sentience in these beasts. They circled her warily, moving instinctively as a pack to take down the first edible thing they had seen in days. Juli continued standing still, only turning her head slightly as one circled behind her. When it thought it had the advantage, it pounced. She heard the crunch of sand and moved as it did. She threw herself into a backwards roll that was diagonal to the beast's trajectory. Tucked low to the ground, her relatively small size played to her advantage as she passed underneath the beast. As she rolled, she whipped her blade up and across its belly. There wasn't enough clearance to get the strength behind the thrust to disembowel the thing, but bright red blood spattered over her white, gold, and dark gray armor. The beast shrieked. As it landed and whipped around with shocking speed to lunge for her, paws as massive as her head with claws that long again coming at her face, she was only just pushing herself into a crouch on the sand. There simply wasn't enough time to dodge again. Her empty arm came up to block. It would have done absolutely nothing to save her if not for the Light that blazed into existence around it. The crowd roared in vicious delight as the large beast collided with the shining barrier, its sheer mass pushing her back a dozen meters and leaving a deep furrow in the sand, but she kept her feet under her. After the beast jumped away to seek a new opening, the creature not yet slowed by the shallow gash that bled fresh red onto the sands, she rose unharmed and allowed the shield to dissipate. The other beast, more cautious than its partner, did not yet make a move, only prowling along the side of the clash. The horn on its nose was broken, it was a darker blue-gray, and it was slightly smaller, though not by much. As Juli watched them stalk her, she wondered what had brought them to the attention of the arena organizers. Had they preyed on townspeople? Ravaged local livestock? Or had it just been the appeal of a matched pair? "Juriel! Juriel!" The crowd was insistent. It wanted blood, hers or the beasts', it didn't care. She had learned it thrilled to either, though this had not really come as a surprise. As much as they had loved her rise to underground fame, it would love her downfall just as much. She had seen the betting odds and knew many had no qualms about betting on the latter every match, if not more and more eagerly with every victory. She made good money off those bets. The sabertusks were too fast for her to try to take the offensive. Unlike the brutosaur, they could turn on a dime and rend with those deadly claws as fast as she could blink. If she gave them the slightest opening, they would seize it, and her by the throat. She would have to wait for them to come to her to try to find an opening, and the crowd communicated its disapproval of her patience as she continued to let the beasts circle her, though this time she slowly turned to keep them in sight as much as possible. Trying to urge action, the drum players increased the tempo. It was effective on everyone but those battling in the arena. The crowd grew more frenzied; someone threw a rock that landed with a thud in the sand not far from Juli. From somewhere, she could hear Tetsujin hollering directions at her. She didn't take her eyes off the beasts, nor they theirs off her. The two beasts started to circle closer. She knew the moment they decided to attack. This time, the sabertusks moved together.
  3. 3 points
    Hey all, I've added two new themes to the boards. I have arbitrarily made the Horde one the default, but there is an Alliance version also. I am leaving the green Legion and default White there for others who either don't like change or dark colored forums. Let me know (screenshot if you can) if you find an area where the text on background doesn't have enough contrast to be able to read it. I've gone through a bunch of the pages and I've fixed the things I've found so far. Happy new expansion! To change your theme, go to the bottom center of the page --> Theme --> pick one.
  4. 2 points
    Hey all, I did a fairly major upgrade to the site this morning. One of things you might want to do is update your bookmarks so they link to https:// instead of http://. The site will auto-redirect you, but it might save you a fraction of a second in loading the site if you change your bookmark. The site should run a bit faster now, and I've got some options for speeding it up more that I might test. The forum software that this site runs on, https://invisioncommunity.com/ is leased for a fee every 6 months. The next renewal day is in late May. The one after that is in November. I will likely be going with a newer, cheaper forum option in November. Why? You might ask? Because Invision forums are like sports cars, and TNG is being used by grandma to drive herself to church and back home once or twice a week. The lease renewal fee is pretty reasonable for a sports car, but more than I want to pay for only a few posts per week level of activity. This isn't a cry for money, by the way. It's just a recognition that, while TN RP isn't completely dead, what RP that is happening has mostly moved to Discord. This isn't a TN specific probably either. I've checked around and where I used to find a few other servers that had something similar, I can't find anything anymore. But Discord servers? They are everywhere. And the truth of the matter is it's a better interactive medium than forums are. But forums are still better for permanence and stability. The purpose of this site was always to preserve the fanfiction of RPers on the Twisting Nether server (and later for Ravenholdt too!). That isn't going away. Things the *might* be going away: the front "news" page, private messages, old discussion posts, leaderboards, clubs, and profile public messages. But November would be the earliest that that would happen. Hey, who knows, maybe they'll merge TN with another RP server and life here will get crazy again and make that sports car lease worthwhile. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns or if you find a bug with the new version of the forum. --Mortica
  5. 2 points
    Julilee dropped into a crouch, thrusting her empty hand toward the larger beast. The force of her will focused the Light into a stunning cascade that fell onto the creature, knocked it off course, and stunned it for valuable seconds. At the same time, her sword came up in a thrust at the smaller beast as it pounced from her other side. It twisted to avoid the blade and Juli tried to lunge in the complementary direction, but one of its paws still struck the back of her shoulder, and she was knocked to the sand. She immediately rolled onto her back, bringing Mercy in between her and her foe, but the animal did not truly respect the blade, perceiving it as an impediment more than anything, and pounced heedlessly. Catching its claws with the sword earned a reprieve barely in name as the thing's sheer weight pinned the weapon across her body, only held away by the width of the blade. The outer edge of Mercy digging into her armor was the least of her concerns as the sabertusk bent down, fangs snapping toward her neck, while leaning further onto its front paws, ready to start ripping and shredding. Death stared her in the face, but she had seen worse. Jagged golden lines burst into illumination down Mercy's hilt, crossguard, and blade, and in one motion Julilee heaved the large beast off her in a feat of strength beyond what even her well-developed athletic abilities could do alone. The beast hissed in pain and the smell of burning filled the air as it backed away, while she rose to her feet again, gripping Mercy with both hands. Light wreathed her weapon and forearms. The crowd was cheering loudly now. While the larger beast had recovered, it similarly backed away with newfound respect for its prey. The two seemed to visibly reconsider. "Shoo," she said to them. "Ya gotta kill 'em, Juli!" Tetsujin yelled down from the bleachers nearest to her. Though he couldn't have heard her, and she hadn't gestured at all, he knew her well enough to know what would make her hesitate. Despite her presence in the arena, she barely had the stomach to participate in any of this to begin with, much less when the beasts didn't even want to fight. At least, when she thought about it, which she couldn't help but do as the beasts stared at her uncertainly. Then the trappings of an ethical quandary were, at least ostensibly, shattered as more rocks began to fall. This time they were aimed at the sabertusks, and a few hit. The smaller one snarled up at the audience and turned to look at Juli again. Its rising aggression chose the only target available, and it lunged across the sands for her again, the larger one right behind. This time she didn't try to dodge; she lunged forward instead, Mercy leaving trailing ribbons of Light as she swung it, two-handed, down at the oncoming beast. It ducked its head as they met so she only scored across its back, but its true strategy quickly became apparent as it tossed its head in the next moment, scooping her up with its tusks and sending her flying. The crowds shrieked. The second beast was there to catch her. It leapt and its jaws closed around her arm, nearly dislocating her shoulder as she landed heavily. But it wasn't her main sword arm, her sword was free, and its neck was exposed. Pulling against its grip to keep it occupied, she brought Mercy across and opened its throat with one clean slice. A river of red joined the spatters on her armor. The thing gurgled, jerked away, and fell. Pain raked down her legs. The smaller beast had pounced her again and its wicked claws, finally put to full use, pierced the metal of her armor like a tin can. Juli gritted her teeth and tried to kick at it unsuccessfully. It seized her leg in its mouth and started dragging her. Juli swung Mercy but it flinched away without relinquishing its grip, and placed a giant paw on her side, ready to try to tear her apart by brute force. It probably had the strength to do so. She didn't want to use any more Light, but she had to. She closed her eyes. A brilliant flash directly beside its head blinded and disconcerted the beast, making it drop her leg and flinch away. Juli opened her eyes and swung Mercy to cut deeply into its front leg. With a snarl it snapped at the blade and achieved a grip on it that almost took it out of Juli's hands, but not quite. Instead she let the beast's strength pull her toward it and help her plant an armored boot in its jaw. There was an audible crack as a tooth snapped, and she jerked Mercy free, then thrust its point into the beast's chest as it reared. She must have found its heart as it collapsed on her immediately. "Juriel! Juriel!" It took some effort to shove the beast's heavy body off and rise to her feet, bleeding, but she did. She closed her eyes again as she listened to the crowd's chanting. She wanted it to feel exciting, glorious, or even at least satisfying to have triumphed once more and be standing under the weight of the crowd's adulation, but instead, it didn't feel like anything. All she could feel was that the reservoir of Light inside of her was lower than before. Tetsujin jumped down to the sounds next to her. She knew it was him without looking. "Good job, Juli," her manager said. He chuckled. "Hope ya ain't too mad at me for the surprise, but I knew ya could handle it." "Yeah," she said, after a moment, opening her eyes again. Her gaze fell on the two downed beasts. Arena organizers were coming to drag the bodies away. "I can handle anything." She turned to walk away, back toward the backstage area. "Hey!" Tetsujin called after her. "Don't sound so happy about it!" "I'm going to go meditate," she replied without turning. "Make sure no one bothers me, please." "Ya and yer meditation," he said without bitterness. She could barely hear him over the crowd as she walked away. "Should celebrate more, what's the point if ya don't enjoy it!" Wasn't that the question. He would be enjoying his portion of the proceeds from today's fight quite thoroughly later tonight. Juli looked down at her red-streaked armor and weapon. If she'd still worn a tabard, it would have been soaked and shredded. With nothing to fight for now, she found herself fighting anyway. "Because I'll never give up," she said, her voice not nearly loud enough to carry back to him over the crowd. He didn't seem to be expecting a response and didn't miss one, busying himself talking to the arena organizers. She left the roaring arena and went to be alone.
  6. 2 points
    "They're animals! Scare them!" Tetsujin tried to yell at her. He'd learned a long time ago that she ignored most of his directions, but that didn't stop him from trying. Lately, she couldn't even hear him over the crowd - or at least that was her excuse. "Hit that belly spot again, it's already bleeding! Don't give it time to heal! Smash it in the head or something!" He could barely hear himself yelling over the sound of the crowd. When the drums got faster, Tetsujin turned his deafened shouting at them in frustration. "SHUT UP!"
  7. 2 points
    They emerged onto a large balcony. It jutted over the edge of the tier and had a view of a section of the city, as well as the jungle-covered inclines that lay beyond. Further out, the jungle appeared to melt into swamplands. Pterodons wheeled overhead, and the sounds of the city drifted upward. Kex'ti stepped up to the railing and wrapped his grip around it. Juli looked at his hands, seeing the finger he was still missing, and the ring he still wore. "Are you happier here?" she asked, remaining behind and to the side of him. He didn't answer the question, because since when did he answer any question that made him slightly uncomfortable. Instead he tried to find the words to speak of what preoccupied him the most about her reappearance, in his meandering way. "Last I heard, you had been lost in Silithus. And it was not someone from Sanctuary that told me this, but... I am tremendously relieved that you are alive, and were not lost to that cursed place." He grimaced. "I'm sorry if you were worried," Juli said. "It wasn't intentional." "What do you want from me, Juli?" he asked simply. He turned and scrutinized her. She didn't know what he was looking for. Any sign of the taint of the Void? She knew he feared that above anything else. Any hint of the woman he had loved, and who had loved him? She knew it wasn't there in her eyes anymore, whatever he had once seen, though it could very well have as much to do with the knowledge in his gaze as the knowledge in hers. The time they had spent apart had been instructive to them both. If you set someone free and they don't return, that means you were only holding them back. "I wanted to say I'm sorry I never loved you as much as you loved me," she said. He was floored. All he could say was, "What happened to you?" She moved up to the railing beside him and folded her arms on it, looking out but not really seeing anything. Her mind went back to the moment everything changed. The six months that followed had changed her too, but not as much as that moment had. "I came face-to-face with the Void, and it... made me see things differently. I was almost lost to it, Kex'ti. I'm sorry I never really, fully understood your aversion to it before. In the end I had two choices: the Void or the Light. I chose the Light and survived." At her hip, Mercy glowed softly with its jagged lines of gold energy that were no longer just energy. Now the purified weapon glowed with the Light, and so did she. It shone in her eyes and flowed through her constantly, an aura she couldn't turn off. The goblin hadn't been wrong. She was a paladin now. Kex'ti's expression softened. He hadn't missed the difference in her. "I am glad you made the right choice." He thought for a moment, then said, "You do not need to apologize. Love is not a matter of magnitude... and I do not even think it is true. We both made errors in our relationship. Am I happier? No. I am not. But I am also less sad, and frustrated." "You're kind to put it that way," she said. "But I think we both know it was my fault it didn't work. I just want you to know I don't blame you." There it was. She had said it, most of it. She had walked straight out of hell and to him because nothing had mattered more than lifting whatever she could of the burden that she had so unfairly placed on him. If she had died down there, her ghost would have been haunted with the knowledge of the guilt she had inflicted on him, unjust and undeserved. Looking at him, she wondered if it helped. He didn't look dumbstruck anymore, just calm. Maybe it would sink in over time. "I appreciate that. I hope things have improved for you since Sanctuary. I do not imagine it has without you." He lifted a hand from the railing and put it back, watching the birds. "Are you happier?" "I only just got back," she said. He didn't know how true that was. "This is the first thing I'm even doing. Next will be Rylie... if I can communicate with her safely." He nodded. "That is a large part of why I am here, so obviously present in the military. So as not to paint a target on her back. Or draw question to my loyalties. It might be advisable you do the same." "I just don't want her to think she's been abandoned," she said quietly. He scowled. "I have tried to get mail to her. I do not know if it has arrived." Changing topics swiftly as he did when he was irked, he said, "What will you do next?" "After trying to get word of my own to her... I'm not sure." He coughed and reached for where he used to keep his medicinal jug at his waist. It was not there. "Ah. I left my medicine back inside. It was... good to see that you are alive. I am sorry for the troubles you have faced." She listened as he prepared to end the visit, to separate himself from her. She watched as he stepped away from the railing, taking a couple steps back toward the guildhall. Every move he made was so familiar to her. Even with his lost weight, every plane of his face was embedded in her memory. Every twist of his mouth, every furrow of his brow, every pitch in his voice, she knew. But it was like watching him through a window. They couldn't reach each other. So it was just as well he didn't want to anymore. He turned away, but then he stopped. Without looking at her, he spoke. "I never stopped loving you, or believing in you. I just couldn't stomach that one decision you made. I am sorry that choice led you to the path you had to walk, but I hope it brings you purpose and peace. For myself, I often wonder if those things exist. But at least for you, if they exist, I believe you'd be the one to find them." And that was why she'd had to come tell him this. Because he would have kept putting up with her, with far more than he should have, if she had not pushed just a little too far. And then she had accused him of not loving her enough. "You did always love me more than I deserved," she murmured. "Maybe," he said. Before he began to move, he remarked, "Do not endanger Rylie because of a guilty conscience." Then he waved his hand and headed inside. Once, that would have been more than sufficient to offend her. It didn't. What he thought of her didn't matter. Whether he was right or wrong to think it didn't matter. She had done all she could here. The rest was out of her hands. She looked once more over the view. It held nothing of interest. She left Warscar Reach's hall. [[ Written in conjunction with Kexti. ]]
  8. 2 points
    She'd also forgotten what pork tasted like. After journeying north into Durotar, she'd killed a boar, then cooked it over a proper fire. While the meat sizzled and browned, she'd stared at it, struggling with a sense of unreality. Dissociation, she told herself. She'd heard the term somewhere, probably in a leadership course or other schooling her privileged upbringing had provided, but like many other things, she hadn't understood it until she experienced it. Pork didn't really taste special. It was just meat. In the fading light of the evening, Juli inventoried her possessions. She carried very little. Her sword, Mercy; her armor, with the padding she wore underneath; and the contents of her pack, which was at this point only a short rope, a knife, a patched waterskin, a well-used sharpening stone, and five gold pieces. If she continued to Orgrimmar, she could access her accounts and purchase anything at all she needed. She could commandeer a mount, sleep in a bed, replace her shield. She thought about it, then laid back on the hard-packed dirt and stared up at the sky until stars began to twinkle into existence. The sight wasn't as reassuring as she had hoped. It wasn't really anything. It was just the night sky, which was to say, more an infinite void than anything else. "I'm alive," she whispered. The void did not answer. That was a welcome change.
  9. 2 points
    Months ago... Julilee arrived in Silithus, alone. She had bruises under her jaw, above the collar of her armor. “Julilee Liene reporting for Sanctuary,” she said. The overseer she spoke to, a goblin, looked her up and down. They stood at the edges of a busy camp, the makeshift command yurt behind him strung with contraptions of unknown purpose. This had been where she’d been directed upon arrival. “Yer all they sent?” he said, tilting his hard hat back. “We asked for three, and apparently we’re gonna need a whole damn platoon, so you’re definitely not going to cut it, short stuff.” Juli didn’t comment on a goblin calling her short. She barely commented at all. “What’s the situation?” she asked. “Mining accident, with a special voidy bonus,” the goblin replied. “My team was mining up Azerite, and broke into some sort of underground chamber. Thought we’d find some good bug artifacts in there, but what we got was abominations.” He frowned, a hint of uneasiness in it. “I was actually plannin’ on increasin’ my request... A few Horde soldiers volunteered to go in this morning for a little extra grease, if you catch my drift. Clean things up. Shouldn’t’ve been too hard. But they never came out.” Julilee looked toward the mine. This particular operation was a distance away from the wound in the world, but the earth had heaved here enough to expose some underground caves the goblins had eagerly turned to exploiting to get deeper faster. The caves had probably been part of a buried Qiraji hive. The mine entrance was guarded by a couple of uneasy-looking Horde soldiers. At this hour, the shadow from the gigantic sword was fallen over where they stood, and the cavernous black hole of the entrance seemed to swallow far too much light in that shadow. “How many hours ago?” she asked. It was past noon. “Two and a half. You’re not going in there, are you?” he said, incredulously. “They could still be alive,” she said. “Not likely, shorty! And I’m not payin’ you to go in there either, if that’s what you’re thinking. That’s just throwing good gold after bad.” “I don’t want your Light-damned gold.” Juli continued looking toward the mine’s opening. Her cold, flat words confused the goblin to silence. She spoke again, after a moment. “How many people can you help if you don’t ever help anyone?” “What?” he said, baffled. “If I don’t come out, detonate explosives and collapse it.” She walked toward the mine.
  10. 2 points
    In that moment, the world was irreversibly changed for her. You can’t unsee the abyss. You can’t unknow the truth. No matter how hard you tried to repress it, no matter how much you tried to deny it, it would haunt you forever. Juli saw it and knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that nothing would ever be the same. Kex’ti’s fear, his unwillingness to slide so much as an inch closer to that edge, was so much clearer to her now. She had understood it, but she hadn’t known it. Every pretension she had, every self-delusion, no matter how innocuous, every coping mechanism she relied on, all were stripped away. She saw herself and indeed the whole world and uncaring universe laid bare, reduced to an absurd meaninglessness. Of course the world was uncaring; she had never labored under the belief that anyone would necessarily get what they deserved, be it good or bad. She knew evil could triumph anytime, any place, and that it would be forever and thankless a struggle for anyone trying to hold it back. But she had never realized it was also a pointless struggle. No matter how much suffering you tried to alleviate, more would take its place, because evil was endlessly inventive and adaptive. And in the end you died and whatever difference you had made would end up being less than negligible. But worse, somehow, was how all the things she had tried to accomplish, everything she had ever tried to be, was all shown to be utterly foolish, self-centered, and inadequate. Her own uncharitable thoughts, even what she had believed were her deepest fears, were nothing compared to the truth. She had never loved Kex’ti. She had only used him to placate her need for control, and he had allowed it until he couldn’t anymore. She had never treated Shokkra like a person. She had tried to turn Shokkra into what she had thought Shokkra should be, sacrificing everything Shokkra was along the way, until Shokkra broke. She had done more than simply been too cautious with Sanctuary. She had ruined a legacy, dragged it backward and done significant harm it would take long to recover from, if it ever fully did. She had been too hard on Cerryan; she had revoked her trust simply because he was imperfect. Cobrak, meanwhile, she had also expected too much of. She had expected him to place her needs above his own. The list went on and on. Even with Miwanza, she hadn’t come down here for the girl’s benefit, or any of the others’. She had come down here to selfishly prove herself. That was all there was to it. And with her father, for whom she’d never been good enough, the truth was she was just… Oh, fuck you. The reflex was so deeply ingrained, it was inseparable from who she was as a person. Her entire body jerked. No one was allowed to touch that nerve. It didn’t matter who. It didn’t matter why. It didn’t matter even if they were right. Nobody got to diminutize what she had gone through growing up. Nobody got to break her down like her father had always tried to. She was entitled to defend herself. And fuck anyone who suggested otherwise. Just fuck them right in the eye with a jagged sword. She reached out, and her hand closed around the wickedly curved hilt of Mercy. Golden light surged down the blade, purging the tentacles which shrieked as they were dispelled. It filled up the weapon and all of the eyes hovering around shrank back as she pulled it free. Maybe it was all pointless. Maybe she could never make a difference. Maybe she would never do more help than harm in the world. But fuck anyone and anything who tried to convince her to give up. She would die fighting, with her soul intact, because no one would ever convince her to hand it over. The righteousness, the strength, the self-belief, she seized it. ******* When Miwanza awakened, she had no idea where she was. It seemed to be the bottom of some caved-in ruin, stonework on one side and a huge mountain of rubble on the other. There was a torch lying nearby, barely an ember left on it, but she was able to coax it to life with the shreds of some purple fabric that was discarded next to it for some reason. She started climbing, trying to find an exit, guided by the faintest whisper of a breeze. If there were other whispers, she didn’t hear them. It took hours of squeezing through narrow gaps and crevices, but Miwanza eventually broke through to a ravine that was open to the sky. From there she was able to follow it until it became shallow enough that she was able to climb out, and from there she wandered until she came across a Horde camp. “Whoa, what happened to you?” the guard said in alarm, ushering her to a bench. “Alliance hit?” “No… I don’t think so…” Miwanza looked down at herself. She was covered in a layer of dirt and had a bandage wrapped around her leg, though she felt no pain. Later, she would discover there was no injury beneath. “...But I don’t remember what happened.” The guard took a closer look at her and frowned. “Are you glowing? You didn’t try that Azerite brew, did you?” “I don’t think so…” She looked down at herself again. She had thought the torch had been her only source of illumination, but she did seem to be giving off a faint golden glow. As she watched, it faded away, leaving just her dark blue complexion. “Some sort of blessing,” said another guard who had shown up to see what was happening. “You don’t remember anything?” the first guard asked. She shook her head. “The last thing I remember is arriving here in Silithus with my platoon.” No one was ever able to puzzle out what happened. The Alliance were named likely suspects when her squadmates were discovered missing. The incident was soon forgotten.
  11. 2 points
    Juli didn’t have much of a choice. She raised Mercy and delivered a solid thwack with the side of the blade to the girl’s head. Miwanza crumpled and Juli scooped her up, throwing her over her shoulder and running for the far side of the dais. Probably should have done that in the first place. Except now she couldn’t hold up her shield, or fight effectively. And the fallen torch’s light didn’t reach far. No, this plan had far too many problems, but it was the only one she had now. You – can’t – flee – from – what – you – believe – She stumbled down the other side of the dais and fetched up against the wall, which she could barely make out. Ancient tapestries crumbled to dust under her touch. She started following the wall, feeling frantically for any exit. Slithering sounds surrounded her and she unintentionally stepped on another tentacle, quickly grinding it to pulpy sludge with her boot. A swipe around her with Mercy had several more barely-visible tentacles dodging back. Luckily, the golden light the blade gave off wasn’t bright enough to illuminate them. She wasn’t sure what they would do if they reached her even if they couldn’t hypnotize her, though. Her hand on the wall suddenly plunged into nothing. An exit! She threw herself toward it, only to bounce ringingly off a wall just inside. It wasn’t an exit. It was just an alcove. Juli stumbled back, and that was when a tentacle wrapped around one ankle. She was just starting to react when it gave a heave and pulled her feet out from under her entirely. She lost her grip on Miwanza as she fell, the girl’s limp body slamming Juli’s head into the stone floor and stunning her. When she regained her senses a few moments later, she had lost her shield but somehow retained her grip on Mercy, and was dangling upside-down in the air, being drawn away from the flickering torch and toward the corner of the room where the mass was. With a grunt she pulled herself up and sliced at the tentacle around her ankle by feel alone. It loosed her, and she braced herself for a rough landing, but instead landed in what felt like a nest of writhing, slimy tentacles. Light help me. As she struggled to right herself, throwing off tentacles and slashing out with her bright blade, it occurred to her in a wry corner of her mind not currently occupied with fighting for survival that this would undoubtedly make a retroactively hilarious story, someday down the line, to share over a cup of strong liquor with Kex’ti – no, Shokkra – no, Cobrak – no, who? Who would she laugh about this with someday, if she made it out of this? Who would care? Nobody would care. “Get out of my head!” she shouted as she struggled, infuriated her thoughts had once again been pushed in this unwanted direction. We – need – do – naught – your – own – battles – are – fought – In the very faint outlines provided by Mercy’s glow, a great stalk rose up in front of her, twice as wide as she was, thought admittedly she was rather small. At the end, a great orb turned towards her. Juli didn’t wait to see any more. She lunged forward and plunged her blade into the center of it. You – bring – us – power – it – we – will – devour – From the edges of the wound sprung more tentacles. No – they sprung from her sword. Juli jerked her hand back in horror as Mercy’s golden glow was replaced by a vivid purple that grew brighter and brighter as more and more tentacles swarmed out of the sides of the blade. Very clearly released. Her mind leapt to the battles against Karthok and his minions, where Mercy had seemed to harmlessly absorb several void attacks. It hadn’t been harmless at all. All this time, she had been carrying around a void-infused weapon. What have I done? How had she not known? Had it been manipulating her? Let – us – show – you – what – mercy – is – true – Too late, she realized that the illumination was too great. She should have closed her eyes immediately. But, still shocked, she didn’t. And she met the gaze of a hundred black eyes.
  12. 2 points
    Miwanza described it as, of course, an unfathomably hideous tentacle beast with far too many eyes. Juli didn’t know what she expected. All Miwanza could really offer other than that was that meeting the gaze of one of the eyes had spelled doom for her companions. Miwanza had only barely avoided doing so, since to gaze upon the mass was to almost assuredly ended up catching the gaze of one of the eyes; only her companions’ reactions, in front of her, had saved her, as they had commanded her attention and at the same time clued her in to what was happening. “All right, here’s what we’ll do.” Juli looked toward the shadows ahead in the antechamber. Apparently the thing lurked in the next room; they speculated it was immobile, relying on its prey to come to it. “You’ll hold the torch, and I’ll guide you – you’ll be blindfolded.” “Blindfolded? But wait, you won’t be?” Both options seemed dismaying in their own way to the girl. “Yes. I’m going to use my shield to block my vision where needed, and find us an exit. If I stop talking and guiding you at any point… try to smack me in the face, with the torch.” Juli inhaled slowly. “I’ll take being blind over insane.” Miwanza hesitated, then nodded, firming her grip on the torch. “All right. Let’s do this.” Juli had used up most of the roll of bandage, and wasn’t sure the gauze would be thick enough if not layered adequately, so had already decided what she was going to do for a blindfold. She sheathed her weapons and took hold of the hem of her purple and gold tabard. Tearing upward, she pulled off a long strip. One of the wings of the phoenix emblem came off with it. Now how is it supposed to fly? She ignored the nonsensical thought as she had Miwanza bend down so she could securely tie the improvised blindfold around the girl’s head. The whispers were getting louder; more eager. She redrew her weapons, and felt better with Mercy in her hand. They set off toward the end of the antechamber. A wall with a wide archway appeared, separating it from the next room. The stonework was still absent of the black chitinlike corruption, but the whispers were growing louder and louder, no longer in small degrees, but in leaps and bounds as they drew closer. Below it, Juli thought she might be hearing disturbing slurping sounds. There was no point in hesitating. Juli took the girl’s arm with her sword hand, lifted her shield and darted into the room. The torchlight danced madly, illuminating a space smaller than the antechamber – a throne room? There was a dais at the end with some objects atop it, but that wasn’t where the creature was. To their left, the light gleamed on hundreds of orbs and Juli threw her shield up between herself and it before she was sure what she was seeing. Backing away from that direction, she looked around, trying to see if there was another exit. Miwanza, making small sounds of fear, gripped Juli’s arm tightly and almost trod on her feet as she followed Juli’s lead. What – do – we – spy – with – our – countless – eyes – The voice was both inside and outside of her head. “Nothing to see here,” Juli said through gritted teeth. There was no exit on the right side of the room, but maybe there was behind the dais. Juli tugged Miwanza that way, angling her shield. She heard sickening slick noises and strained to determine if they meant the thing was moving. The acoustics of the chamber if not the echoing whispers made that impossible. As they reached the dais, something slid up to her foot, under her guard. She didn’t think; she stomped it to bits. The texture was wretched. “Up!” she urged Miwanza. “Five steps!” Miwanza stumbled as she went up, breaking from Juli’s grip but catching herself. Juli swept Mercy under her shield preventatively, and thought she felt the tip of the blade slide through something that gave almost no resistance. Like, maybe, an eyeball. “Juli?” Miwanza cried. You – saw – all – before – remember – so – much – more – “Keep going!” Juli backed up the steps, keeping her shield up and using every sense she could to try to catch any more tentacles that might encroach. Not being able to look went against every instinct she had. Look out, look out, look out. She bumped into Miwanza, who wasn’t moving. Juli whipped her head to look at the girl, suddenly fearing the girl had somehow become transfixed despite the blindfold, but there were no tentacle stalks near the girl. Nonetheless, she wasn’t moving. “Miwanza! Keep going!” Juli tried to give her a shove, but in response Miwanza simply dropped the torch. It continued to burn, but the light was dangerously dimmer. The – inner – eye – is – where – truth – lies – “I saw it,” Miwanza breathed. “I saw it, before. I ran away, but I remember now.” She reached up. “Miwanza, no!” The girl ripped off the blindfold and smiled beatifically past Julilee.
  13. 2 points
    “First, though, let’s see if I can bandage that wound better for you,” Juli said. Miwanza nodded and sank down against the pillar. Juli gave her the torch to hold and started unwrapping the bandage. “How come you came by yourself?” Miwanza said. She paused. “I mean, it’s very brave, but… didn’t it seem risky?” “Someone else was going to come with me originally,” Juli said as she worked. She didn’t know why she said what followed. “But she felt I was going to betray her, so she attacked me, disabled me, and took off.” “Why did she think that?” Miwanza said, somewhere between curious and alarmed. Juli was silent for a moment before answering, working on unbuckling the girl’s leg plate and setting it aside. “She thought she wouldn’t get a fair trial for something she’d done which others viewed as a crime. I thought she would, but… I guess I don’t blame her.” “Sounds like you two have a complicated relationship,” Miwanza offered. “You could say that.” “Is she the one who gave you those bruises?” Juli paused in the middle of getting out her water canteen, one hand rising reflexively toward the bruises under her jaw. It was a lucky guess. “Yes,” she said. “If, um, she was going to be put to trial, why were you two coming here…?” Juli considered what to say. She had already said all that, so why not the rest? “It was going to be our last assignment together. I resigned from my post as leader of my guild. I just… wanted one last chance to feel like I was carrying out Sanctuary’s mission, the way I’d always envisioned it, with someone I always hoped could see it the same way.” “I’ve heard of Sanctuary,” Miwanza said, perking up. “You want peace between the Horde and the Alliance, don’t you?” Juli sighed inwardly as she cleaned the wound. “We want peace for everyone, regardless of faction,” she said, the correction one she had given more times than she could count. Then she paused, realizing she was speaking as though she were still part of Sanctuary. “Or at least, that was my vision. I don’t know how good a job I did of getting anyone closer to that while I was in charge. But I’m not going to try anymore.” “You’re giving up?” “On some things,” Juli said. She reached into her satchel and pulled out a roll of bandage. “I’m not going to try to lead anymore. I could never really inspire anyone. Not their confidence, not their hope, not anything. So I’m just going to do whatever I can until I can’t anymore.” She started wrapping Miwanza’s leg tightly. “So you came down here on pretty much a suicide mission.” Miwanza gave a rueful laugh. “Do you even expect to get out of here alive?” Despair underlaid her words. Juli looked up at the girl. “I will die trying to get you out of here alive,” she said quietly, “but dying is the very last option, and not one I’ll be throwing myself at. You can’t help anyone if you’re dead.” “You sound like you’ve said that before,” Miwanza said, the words calming her somewhat. “Someone said it to me years ago,” Juli said. “And it stuck… maybe too much. I was too cautious, for too long. An entire guild’s lives were in my hands. One bad call and I could lose someone who trusted me, right?” She was silent for a moment as she worked, tying off the bandage. “But Sanctuary needed to take those risks. We weren’t Sanctuary unless we did.” “Like Aerie Peak,” Miwanza said. Juli stopped again, looking up at the girl. “People still talk about that?” she said. “I was at the Wyvern’s Tail once when some Grim came in, and they mentioned it,” Miwanza said. “I found the official Horde report later and read it. The Grim said you attacked them, but according to the report, you stated that you only stood in defense of Alliance civilians and noncombatants when the Grim attacked. People say a lot of things about Sanctuary, but… I’ve seen what the Grim have done… I wouldn’t put it past them to do that.” “Yes,” Juli said. “The town’s soldiers were mostly away, leaving only children, elderly, the infirm, and other noncombatants… There were only a handful of us Sanctuary, and a whole squad of Grim. But we chose to make a stand, even though we were outnumbered.” She remembered the clash of her and Khorvis’ blades. Lilliana’s twisted face as she flung dark magic. Cerryan’s bright cries. The surety that had rung in her heart, the utter lack of regret even when things were at their bleakest. “But things changed after that… No, I changed. I became unwilling to take any more risks. I was too afraid that someone else would pay the price if I was wrong.” “But you were just saying you can’t help anyone if you’re dead,” Miwanza pointed out. She helped with her free hand as Juli buckled the leg plate back on. “So being cautious isn’t unreasonable.” “Yes,” Juli agreed. “But you can’t help anyone if you never help anyone, either.” She rose to her feet and offered Miwanza her hand. Miwanza clasped it and Juli pulled the girl to her feet. With the new, tighter bandage, she seemed more stable. Miwanza tested her weight on it and seemed satisfied. She still wouldn’t be leaping across any chasms, but she could get around. “I’m not responsible for anyone else anymore,” Juli said. “Just myself. So I’m going to take those risks now that I always should have. I’m not going to run toward death, but I’m not going to always run away from it, either. That’s why I’m here. I won’t let you down.” “If you say so,” Miwanza said with a weak chuckle. “I’m not going to look a gift boar in the tusks. If we get out of here alive, I’m not gonna argue with whatever philosophy you used to do it.” The whispers had quieted while the two spoke. It had been a welcome break, but suddenly Juli had the feeling that they had been listening. Well, it wasn’t anything that hadn’t already been in her mind, on which the shadows had already played. And, as always, the only way to go was forward. No matter what lay behind, she had to keep moving forward, because giving up was never an option. “Keep the torch,” Juli said. “I’ll need both my arms to fight. What can you tell me about the thing ahead?” The whispers were growing loud again as she drew her sword and shield. The bright, jagged lines on Mercy gleamed golden in the darkness. “Oh, you’re a paladin!” Miwanza said, her voice rising with real hope for the first time. “Maybe you really can beat this thing!” “...” “What?” Miwanza blinked. “Just tell me what this thing looks like.”
  14. 2 points
    From there, the pathway didn’t fork anymore. It was a blessing because she didn’t have to worry about losing her way, but a curse because she didn’t have concentrating on not losing her way to keep her distracted from the whispers. She spent some time thinking about how to get back across the treacherous cavern on her way out. Once she had a few basic ideas about that, she didn’t have much else to try to anticipate or plan. She found herself wondering what the outside world do if she never came out. How many weeks would it be before someone went into her office to try to figure out what mission it was she’d mentioned to Vilmah? Would anyone try to follow her down into this damned place? Or would they assume she’d just run off with Shokkra? The whispers loved that train of thought, so she tried to think of a new one. A distraction came in the form of the walls and floors. The reddish, bulbous, silithid-made appearance of the surfaces was changing. It was becoming darker, and glossier. Her sabatons made a slightly different sound on them. They clicked more. She paused to inspect a particularly bulbous pustule once it had all become very shiny and black, bringing her torch nearer to it. Deep within, the blackness contracted as the torch neared. It was an eyeball. She flinched back instinctively, but nothing happened. After a few moments to calm her thoroughly unnerved heart, she continued on. Something loomed in the path ahead. She couldn’t quite figure out what it was for a moment, only able to perceive a strange shadow lying in the way, before it clicked. It was a chasm. The earth had been split here, this far beneath the surface, the rending wide enough that she had to get close to the edge before the circle of light her torch provided illuminated the opposite side. The bottom of the chasm, she couldn’t see at all. A breeze stirred the torch’s flame, ever so slightly, though she couldn’t feel it. Did the opening go all the way up to the surface, somewhere? Even if it were impassable to anything but a breeze, the fresh air was welcome. The whispers seemed quieter here. She considered her options. It was a noteworthy distance across, but she suspected that with a running start, she could make it. However... she wasn’t entirely sure. But other options did not seem promising. She had brought no rope, and an inspection of the walls and the edges showed that there would be no climbing sideways or down, the material too slick and sheer to promote a safe hold. If she wanted to continue, across was the other way to go. There were three more Horde soldiers unaccounted for. They could very well be at the bottom of this chasm, so far as she knew. Or, this chasm could have only opened up with the last earthquake in that cavern of impalement. Or, the chasm had been here, but they’d made it across. Or, they could have gone a completely different direction. Well, there was only one way to find any of that out, wasn’t there. She backed up a distance, then started for the edge. However, she didn’t run at full speed, and slid to a stop before the edge. She was half-expecting a tentacle to try to lash up at where she would have been mid-jump. But nothing happened. The whispers didn’t even change. Am I too paranoid? Or am I the only one prepared? You’re always the former until you’re the latter. She backed up again, and this time ran as hard as she could. Her footing at the edge almost gave out under her as she leapt, but she was still able to get enough of a launch to just barely make it across, her feet landing inches ahead of the gap. She pounded to a stop, looking back. The gap looked wider from this direction. She kept going. It suddenly changed. In a transition spanning only a few feet, the material surrounding her shifted from the black, organic (?) material to gray stonework, tendrils trailing into it then disappearing. It was an ancient, deeply buried ruin. She lifted her torch higher as she stepped into the area, looking around. It seemed like some sort of grand antechamber, wide, with dual rows of pillars reaching to the ceiling. The whispers echoed, here, like she was hearing them with her actual ears. Realizing that was also when she realized that she could hear again, and that she had been able to for some time. It was enough to give her pause, and wonder what else she’d missed. But all she could do was try to pay as close attention as she could to her surroundings, and she did as she moved forward, casting her gaze about, aware that there were many directions with much cover that something could appear from. Then a muffled sob came from one side. As much as she had every reason to believe it was a trap, she couldn’t not ensure it wasn’t. Hand on Mercy’s hilt, she moved toward the sound. Sheltering behind the pillar was a troll in Horde armor. She was bunched in on herself, holding a one-handed axe with both hands. She almost leapt at Juli as she appeared, but stopped in confusion at the last moment, stumbling and shrinking away. “What...?” Juli held up her hands, including the one still holding the torch, spreading the fingers a little bit to show it was all she held. “My name is Julilee. I came down here to find you. Are you all right?” she asked. “Are... are you real?” the trolless asked. “Are you?” Julilee replied dryly. “The shadows haven’t stooped to outright illusions yet, but I wouldn’t put it past them.” The trolless didn’t seem entirely reassured by that, but she looked like she wanted to be. She was young, with blue hair and darker blue skin. Her youth made Juli think of Mariz. Mariz could have easily ended up here, had she signed up with the Horde military instead of Sanctuary. But Juli had ended up here too, hadn’t she, because of Sanctuary. Juli wasn’t sure what lesson she was supposed to draw from that conclusion and didn’t have the time to ponder it further. “Look,” Juli said, “I want to get you out of here safely, and your companions if they’re still alive. Do you know where any of them are?” “We lost Mal’lul early in the tunnels,” the trolless said hesitantly, “and Orenzi to the spikes.” She swallowed, still gripping her axe. “Lomar and Kaishu, they convinced me to keep going once we got here... They said that there would be treasure in ruins like these and the goblins couldn’t complain about us helping ourselves down here while we cleaned up the voidspawn... and maybe we’d find something to help us get back through the spikes and the suffocating dark thing...” “What happened?” Juli prompted. “Where are they now?” “We went ahead, and... the voidspawn... it... there was... it was too big. It got Lomar and Kaishu... almost got me...” Julilee nodded. She didn’t press for details. “What’s your name?” “Miwanza.” Juli gave her a closer look. The girl looked scared out of her mind. She also had a bloodied bandage tied across her right thigh. The stumble hadn’t been entirely due to the pulled swing. “How fast can you move, Miwanza?” “Not very,” the girl admits. “I only got away because the... thing... it was occupied.. with...” Juli nodded again, letting the girl know she didn’t need to explain. “There’s a chasm in the tunnel on the way out. I made it across but I don’t think you can with your injury. We’ll need to find something to help us cross it, or another way out of here.” The sheer practicality Juli evinced seemed to be reassuring the trolless that Juli was real, though the situation as described clearly scared her. “What do we do?” she asked. Juli considered that herself. There was no guarantee that any other exit existed. Nor was there that there would be any items they could put to use in these ruins. And it was guaranteed that an enemy lay ahead. But there were literally no other options. “We get past it.”
  15. 2 points
    The path opened up into another large cavern. Juli could tell it was huge by how the small sounds she made, her footsteps and the rustling of her armor, got swallowed up by the dark that her torch couldn’t find the end of. She weighed her options: go through the middle or stick to a wall? In the end she decided to follow the whispers, which led out away from the walls. The soldiers, if they were fleeing in terror, would have taken much the same course anyway. An obstruction appeared – a stalagmite. She moved around it and encountered more, the ground growing thick with them. A natural cavern? She paused to look at one of them more closely. It didn’t appear to be made out of mineral. She hesitated to inspect further, and continued on. Her ears strained to pick out sounds in the dark surrounding her. Even her own movements seemed muffled, and to be growing more so. Only the whispers stayed at the same volume. At first she wasn’t sure if it was an acoustical trick, but eventually she stopped and tapped and her armor to check, and she heard nothing at all. She scanned her surroundings, wary of what this meant. Had she lost her hearing, or was this some new threat? Or both? Then she began to feel vibrations under her feet, rapidly growing stronger. Instinctively, she reached out to steady herself on one of the stalagmites. This proved to be a bad idea as it broke off at her touch, far more fragile than she had anticipated. The rumbling grew heavier, accompanied by a rushing of air, and she turned her head to see a stalactite crash down not far from her. She couldn’t hear it hit, which was disorienting, nor the fragments that she could feel bounce off her armor as she shielded her face. Managing to keep her feet, she started moving quickly, seeking the end of the cavern. With her right arm she drew her shield and held it up to protect herself as more stalactites came crashing down in utter silence. At least one bounced off her shield directly, but other than being jarring, it did no harm, its material far too fragile. While running for cover, Juli almost tripped over another body, this one a female orc. She also wore Horde armor and was impaled on a broken stalagmite, which appeared to have fallen over and shattered in the earthquake. How? Juli didn’t have time to puzzle it out and quickly passed by. Almost all of the spires along the ground had collapsed at that point, and fewer stalactites were falling now. In another few moments, it ceased entirely. Juli slowed to a stop, looking around. Fragments lay everywhere that the torch’s light could reach. The cavern was clear of obstructions now, save for the rubble. But she has a feeling that that wasn’t it. The rumbling started up again. Instinct made Juli break into a sprint. The ground grew strangely mushy under her feet. The debris was disappearing. Absorbed into the ground? Then, the ground grew hard again. She had the weird feeling that the ground was actually changing, and not from her passage of distance, but altogether. This place was all wrong and unnatural. Then a stalagmite erupted from the ground in front of her. She spun, barely avoiding running into it, though she still bounced off the side of it. The soundlessness of it all was as jarring as the impact. It didn’t break, much stronger than any of the ones that had collapsed. Fully capable of impaling someone. It was a new one. It had regrown. She didn’t know if her own wild imagination had supplied the thought or if the whispers did, but couldn’t do anything right then but dismiss it anyway. She kept running. Another one erupted just in front of her, but she saw it coming this time, and leapt over it. Her instincts told her there was going to be more than direction to this threat, and when a spike suddenly speared down down from the ceiling, she was not entirely surprised. She ducked, her short height once again coming in handy for something, and kept going. Several more close calls later, she fetched up against a wall. Quickly reconsidering that, she moved away from the potentially lethal surface and moved to follow the edge at a safer distance. No spikes did end up coming out of the wall, but several more erupted from the floor and ceiling, trying to get her. One scored along the side of her leg but her armor took the scratch. Eventually, she found an opening and ducked in. The spikes didn’t follow, and the rumbling ceased. The whispers flowed down this passage. If there had been more than one exit from the impalement cavern, it seemed she had found the right one. Juli slung her shield back on her back, put her hand on Mercy’s hilt, and continued on.
  16. 2 points
    The narrow entrance led to an even narrower corridor, one that looked like it was created by the earth’s rupturing rather than created by creatures, sentient or otherwise. The cavern it led into, however, was another matter. The torch’s light shone on bulbous walls signature of what one could expect in the zone. Juli moved out into the open, looking for other exits, and the light illuminated three other corridors out of the cavern. From one of them flowed the whispers. Eerily, they sounded like someone she knew, though she couldn’t say who. She put her other hand on the hilt of Mercy and followed them. The path forked; Juli took the one that the whispers were coming from. Then it forked again, and again, and again. She started building herself a mnemonic to remember the path she took: My really lousy rocks reach lower levels… It didn’t make any sense, but that was fine as long as she could remember it. Focusing on the dumb game kept the whispers from encroaching on her mind, too. It seemed odd that the path forked so much. As far as she knew, most silithid hives just spiraled deeper and deeper, without many branching paths at all. And this one just kept going. At one point, she realized she was going in a circle, and was forced to take some time to revise her mental map, figure out where she had started repeating herself, then go from there, finding a passage where the whispers were marginally louder than the one she had been taking. After that, the whispers started becoming a thrumming undertone of too many speaking at once to understand. She chose to not be disturbed by it, determined to get to the bottom of this and find what had happened to the missing soldiers. Her thoughts started wandering as she continued on. There was too much weighing on her mind. Losing Kex’ti, giving up Sanctuary, even Cobrak’s actions. And Shokkra. The more she thought about it all, the more depressed and discouraged she got, her thoughts darkening. Why was she even here? Why was she even trying, when she couldn’t help anyone? Then she realized that those thoughts weren’t her own; they were what the whispers were saying. Anger burned bright clarity back into her mind. She wasn’t going to give up, and she certainly wasn’t going to give up because manipulative entities were toying on her fears. It was at that same moment that she realized the shadows were encroaching on more than her mind. An amorphous blob hovered at the left side of her peripheral vision, and as soon as she realized it was there, she instinctively swiped at it with the torch in her hand. A shriek split the enclosed space and suddenly it was hard to breathe. It occurred to her she didn’t even know how far she was underground and if good air could still reach down there. She could suffocate. She was suffocating. No. More shadows. She drew her sword as the blob recoiled then lurched for her again, and the shining blade sliced right through it. It died with another shriek, and as soon as the sound dissipated, she could breathe again. She took a moment to do just that, as she shifted carefully, looking around for any other threats. She ended up finding a body instead. It was a male troll in Horde armor. His eyes bulged, his mouth agape, as though he had choked to death. His body was cool, but not yet stiff. His companions must have fled ahead and left him to die. Juli turned back toward the whispers and continued.
  17. 2 points
    Juli stood at the entrance to the mine. Besides being unnaturally dark, a chill breeze flowed gently from the cave’s mouth, yet it failed to stir the flames of the torches on either side. That wasn’t the worst part, though. The worst part was the impression of whispers carried on that breeze, like a hushed conversation you were overhearing while asleep and couldn’t make any sense out of. It was no surprise the two Horde grunts guarding the entrance seemed uneasy. They looked at her as she stood there, and as she did, their expressions slowly turned from dubious to bewildered as she did not move for some time. She ignored them, immersed in thought. Eventually, she took out her hearthstone and spoke. “Sanctuary, thank you for the chance to lead you as long as I did. It’s been the most important three and a half years of my life. If you haven’t already heard, I’ve passed the mantle of leadership to Vilmah Bloodborne. I had reached the end of what I could offer Sanctuary, and I know she’ll be able to guide you further than I could. It’s been an honor. Thank you.” When she was done, one of the guards asked with nervous gentleness, “Err, lady, you’re not going in there out of some deathwish, are you?” The juxtaposition of her words, which they could hear, and what she was staring into was rather clear. The other shifted awkwardly, and the first guard went on. “Just take a little time, find someplace to blow off some steam. Go fight in an arena, spend some gold somewhere – fel, go get laid. You’ll feel better and realize you don’t have to do anything drastic.” “How many are unaccounted for?” was all she asked. “Five of ‘em went in,” the other guard said. “Two trolls, two orcs, and a pandaren.” She grunted. “Haven’t heard a peep. Other than...” Her eyes shifted toward the dark of the cave mouth, where the unheard whispers were coming from, and she scratched at an ear nervously. No new information since the request that had come to her desk, then, about what Juli would actually be facing down below. The report had just mentioned voidspawn in a cave the miners had broken into, from which they’d quickly retreated with no casualties. Juli mentally reviewed what she knew and found it wasn’t much. She would have to figure out what was going on herself. “She sure stands around thinkin’ a lot,” the second guard commented to the first. “Someone has to,” Juli muttered, then walked into the cave. She grabbed a torch off the side as she passed by. The guards didn’t stop her.
  18. 2 points
    Somewhere behind dark clouds, the moon was high over Sun Rock Retreat. Rain pattered down onto the dry red dirt, collecting in puddles and dribbling down the sheer cliff faces into the small Tauren village below. Despite the hour and the weather, the distant sound of fighting could be heard echoing from over the canyon walls. And standing above it all, looking down into the village below, was a lone Goblin. A cigar chomped in the corner of his mouth lighting up his face and the pair of goggles resting upon his forehead in an orange-red glow. He’d take a heavy puff from the cigar now and then, drawing on it to keep the dim glowing tip alight despite the rain fighting to extinguish it. With a sigh, he reached into his vest and withdrew a pocket watch, exchanging it to his opposite hand to fling the water that had collected on his fingertips after reaching into his soaked clothing. Lifting the pocket watch to his cigar to cast some light on it in order to read the time. He grunted and rolled his eyes before tucking the watch away once more into the wet clothing from which it had came. “You’re late again.” He commented aloud around the cigar, rolling it from one side of his mouth to the other. Behind him, the sound of heavy steps in the mud grew gradually louder. A Tauren approaching, walking up the steep wet slope of the path that lead to the top of the cliff. “Sorry. Traffic.” Came the flat joke in reply, a smooth baritone voice from the bull that strode toward the Goblin. The Goblin rolled his eyes, visible only thanks to the glow upon his face. But the smirk that pulled at the corners of his lips was obvious. It was short lived though as he pulled a folder from under his arm, tucked into his armpit to keep it at least somewhat dry. It wasn’t particularly effective. Never the less, he held the damp folder up with a full extension of his arm for the Tauren to take it. And as the bull came to a stop at the cliffs edge he took the folder, opening it in a hand. The Goblin reached into his vest to retrieve a flashlight for the bull to read by, but stopped short. Before he could retrieve the flashlight, the Tauren’s fingertips upon his free hand lit up with arcs of blue electricity. His hand raised just high enough to light the pages. Within the folder were photos and documents. Horde insignias marked each page. Post combat reports and debriefings taken by Horde intelligence. Thick fingers paged slowly through the folder, flipping from one page to the next before coming to rest upon a photo. An image frozen in time of the carnage upon the beaches of Darkshore. In the distance, the world tree Teldrassil smoldered, spewing smoke into the sky. The Tauren visibly hesitated, an action which the Goblin recognized. “It’s bad.” Came the thickly accented voice of the Goblin. “Bad is one word for it.” The Tauren replied as he traced a finger along the photo, smearing raindrops across its surface. “It would be ironic for me of all people to say Sylvannas has gone too far.” “But?” “But Sylvannas has gone too far.” The Tauren replied, closing the folder and holding it back out to the Goblin. Realizing that he was done, the Goblin reached up and took it, tucking it back beneath his arm. “So what do we do about it?” “Nothing.” Came the baritone reply. The Goblin blinked, before looking up at the Tauren with a raised brow. “The leader of the Horde is going too far in their conflict with the Alliance. Again. And we’re going to do nothing. Again?” He asked quizzically, wanting to confirm what he’d just heard. “The whole reason myself and the others left was because our fight was over. Our whole intent was to fight the battles the Horde could not. Garrosh made our existence unnecessary. For the Raven Cross to continue would simply mean becoming a part of the greater Horde war machine. This is no different.” The Tauren replied easily, shrugging his shoulders. “And I have no interest in killing a fellow member of the Horde. No matter how despicable they may have become. It should not be our way.” “So we just go back to watching?” A nod of the Tauren’s head indicated his reply. Silence lingered in the air between them for a time. Only the sound of the rain pattering down onto the world around them would fill the air. The goblin stared at the Tauren for a time, before realising that the rain had finally won out against his cigar - it now was dark and wet. Grumbling, he pulled it from his lips and dropped it to the mud, stamping on it with a boot to make sure it stayed out. “What about the others? Have you heard anything about them?” The Goblin asked, shaking his foot to dislodge mud from his boot. “Not for years. We all went our separate ways. I’m not sure about the others that stayed and kept flying the flag, but they’re not in Sun Rock anymore.” The Tauren replied, his eyes on the village below. Even in the dark, the Goblin could make out the sombre look upon his face. “It was for the best for everyone that we stayed out of touch. The Alliance weren’t exactly going to take what we did lying down without looking for revenge. We were a liability to each other.” There was a brief pause, before the Goblin chuckled. “So remind me why we still keep doing these little covert meetings, then?” The grin from the Tauren was visible even in the dark as he turned his head to look down at the Goblin. “Old habits die hard, my friend.” With those words, the Tauren turned and started heading back towards the path up the cliff. “I need to go see Teldrassil for myself. Then maybe I’ll change my mind about our next move. Maybe it’s time.” Nodding his head, the Goblin was silent and watched as his friend started walking away. But before he was out of sight, the Goblin spoke up one last time. “Dio!” The Tauren lifted his head, and in the dark the Goblin could make out the silhouette of the Tauren as he turned his head to look over his shoulder. “It was good to see you. Unulu, too. I’m assuming he’s around here somewhere, at least.” The Goblin remarked. In the dark, his expression unreadable, the Tauren smiled. “Yeah, he’s around. It was good seeing you, too, Chikt. I’m sure we’ll be doing this again soon.” With that, the Tauren continued down the path. And as he disappeared out of sight, the storm went with him.
  19. 2 points
    Late to seeing all this, but well wishes to the lot of you. Legion saw a shift for me away from Rp unfortunately. At least for a bit raiding was great and Katrynne got to be a part of that! I'll always look back fondly on our planned kidnapping and everything that stemmed from that. I repeat my wishes for continued success! I plan to be more RP focused this expansion, so who knows, our paths may cross yet again. After all, there is still a score to be settled. >:)
  20. 2 points
    LUNK RITE MOAR WORDS hai hi, me iS stIlL Lunkkk, wriTe stOry bout scarY day! :O haHa :O looK likE LoNk facE! 2dayYyYyy ScAry. FeW days b4r, sCar LadY brinG frned, n he bIg n mean. anyWay, 1day 2day end of miss Razzy contest. PRETTY LADY WIN! lunK very happppy. Affer she Win, HOUSE CATCH FIARRRR! :OOOO luNk watch shoWs in room wid friends crOnk n PonK. n boB n Lonk2 buttt dey naht frinds. dey sUck. So, we watchIn show, LunkkKk look like tis: \o/ he hav good time. Den, get HAWT. BoB tell turn air, buT no AiR, AirrR hot! B4r no, rooM on fiahr in Mid of Ahll miiii gren chilrend! N lunk Lock in firarr room! bOoB haZ good ida, Hee spiLl dranK oN fiarrhs! N CrOonk spits on fiaarhrs! smmMart cRoNk..s Luank try same. Den! PRETTY LADY COME SAVE LUNK! Door opn, pretti ladi derE wid nothAr pretY lady! TwO pretTy Ladies! :O Dey Yallink at moOks n wE run out RooM n dey SavEe liFE!!!! BesTtest ladIes evarh! baD stuf happeN miSs RazzY housE brrrn 2 groun, but MisS RaZzY sayyfe! n moOks sayyfe! we go Poooorrt? Purt? Pert now! NEwww hOomE 4 Lunk Lunk! luv lunk ❤️ The text is written in the same shambled up journal as before, the mook having had it stuffed in his pants as he left the burning building. The edges of the paper is charred, as the mook attempted to fan the flames away. There is a wrinkles where some stray saliva got on the paper. It is written in the same messy text, but it is full of love. Lunk loves his job and loves the people he works with. Especially Miss Razz ❤️. He won't forget his time at the house with all the pretty ladies and silly men! Or, that's what he thinks!
  21. 2 points
    The Grim was always a good fight, best of luck to you.
  22. 2 points
    Proud to have been a member of The Grim for several years, and I look forward to seeing the story continue on WrA. ❤️
  23. 2 points
    Hello! I feel like I should have posted this SOONER, but I've kinda been all over the board as far as forumers go! I am Hunter, otherwise known as Chestius, otherwise known as Mr. Pockets. I'm a small time youtuber and a huge fan of both WoW and TF2. I've been playing both for YEARS, and adore everything that comes with it! Some funny facts about me: I am very bad at video games I can do voice impressions of both the Goblins in WoW as well as the Scout in TF2 (the only difference was Smokers Lung, after all) Beyond that, I'm just a dork who loves treating WoW as an extra D&D Night. I love the game and challenge, but also love the storytelling and fun with RP. Hit me up in game for some Battlegrounds, and I look forward to seeing everyone in BfA!
  24. 2 points
    Full Name: Lunk Lunk the Destroyer Nicknames: Lunk for short Birthday: 01 April, at least that's what he's told Age: Don't ask Race: Hobgoblin Gender: Mook Hair: Mook Skin: Mook Eyes: Mook Height/Weight: Mook Place of Residence: Razz's House Place of Birth: Don't ask Known Relatives: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Religion/Philosophy: Whatever Miss Razzy tells him Occupation: Miss Razzy's Bodyguard/Protector of her house Enemies: LONK Likes: Pretty ladies (particularly Ketani Addison), his shows, bun huggers/underoos, Miss. Razzy Dislikes: Lonk, when people are mean Favourite Weapon: Zappy Stick, itchy stichy (itching powder) Favourite Food: Floaty Sammich Hobbies: Watching his shows, picking pretty flowers, and helping Miss Razzy Positive Personality Traits: Unending positivity, always tries his best Negative Personality Traits: Has the intelligence of a hobgoblin Theme Song: Womp Womp, Wimp Wimp by Mook Quartet History: Lunk work hard for Miss Razzy, write journal telling all adventures! He try hard, do best job!
  25. 2 points
    Ninorra did not like running. The warlock was built for few things that involved physical exertion. Her limbs were short and thick, used to walking or riding more than running, and her robes were too cumbersome to make the effort easy. They flailed about her as she pumped her limbs, sweat glistening on her skin despite Everson’s temperate weather. How did it get to this? She had been walking with Steinburg, recently returned from his time in Undercity. He shared the story of what happened to him there, a tale both of sadness and woe that showed itself in the way he spoke and moved; the once cheerful Forsaken, who long ago learned to ‘live’ with his new existence by working with Sanctuary as their official banker and record keeper, had gone to the Undercity recently to help a budding new government created in the Dark Lady’s absence. He sent Ninorra letters, sometimes, sharing what happened. He seemed proud of the work he did, proud of the men and women he worked with. However only a day ago, Steinburg returned to her home in Eversong a shadow of his former self. The once tidy Forsaken wore the tattered robes of a prisoner, and his hair, once so carefully taken care of, lay in limp strands over his face. He explained to Ninorra the situation, that anyone showing dissent in Undercity were “disappearing”. He considered leaving many times, but it wasn’t until Catalinetta saw him that he realized the time for his departure had come. A portal to Silvermoon was all it took, something he considered fortunate. The elves of Quel’thalas would never allow Sylvanas’ dark rangers to follow him there. Would they? Ninorra assured him that no, the Sin’dorei were a proud people. Loyal to the Warchief of course, but, the Regent Lord Lor'themar Theron would never allow her to— “Going somewhere, are we?” a deep voice said from the shadows. It was not a familiar voice. The scratchy hollow echo was similar to Steinburg’s, but it did not share the warm quality that he spoke with, in spite of his sorrow. Turning toward the voice, Ninorra gripped the scythe in her right hand. It was a monstrous weapon, known for stealing the souls of her victims and recycling them. Today it had a dark red glow, matching the red and black robes she had decided on that morning. Her own red eyes cast a faint color across her face, which was strangely relaxed. Steinburg took a step back. “Who are you?” Ninorra asked calmly. “If my friend and I have traipsed on private property, we do apologize. My own home is not far from here.” Of course, she knew that this part of the Eversong Woods was public property, a jurisdiction of Quel’thalas and under Silvermoon’s protection. Hoof beats signaled an approaching rider, but what came forward were three faces Ninorra did not entirely recognize. Two male Forsaken and one female, who, she could see, was a master of the fel arts not unlike herself. “The Warchief has requested that we apprehend this employee of the Desolate Council,” said the lead rider, a sword at his hip. Each wore a tabard of black and white. Steinburg grabbed Ninorra’s arm. “Infection,” he whispered to her. “Go, Lady. They only want me.” Ninorra frowned at the idea. Steinburg was her friend, after all. He helped raised Damian, he cared for her home while she and Vicailde were gone, and he never asked for much in return. “I am afraid that will not be happening,” she said boldly, red eyes flashing a little brighter for a moment. “Mister Steinburg is under my protection.” The Forsaken sneered terribly. “And why should that matter?” “Because I am Lady Ninorra Bloodstone,” she answered flippantly. “And my friend has committed no crimes. Our people do not simply allow strangers to walk in our land and take our friends without a damn good reason.” “The reason is that our Warchief wills it,” the lead rider said without a smile, approaching them on his skeletal horse. “And what our Warchief wills shall be done. Now. Hand over that wretch or you will also find yourself in an unpleasant situation.” Ninorra frowned deeply, her dark lipstick covered mouth turned downwards. “You cannot command me on this land. This is Quel’thalas. Not Undercity.” “This is Horde territory,” he muttered, sliding off of the horse. Drawing his sword, the Forsaken approached Ninorra and pointed it in her direction. He didn’t seem to have the patience or the desire to argue with her. “All of it.” A sudden explosion behind the other two Forsaken startled Ninorra, who turned to look at Steinburg. He was not a great mage, but in a panic he managed to conjure a big enough fireball to startle the skeletal horses of his antagonists. The one with the sword turned to snarl at his companions, who nearly fell off of their mounts. Steinburg didn’t mince words. “Run!!” Grabbing her wrist, the Forsaken made for the trees. He was faster than she would have imagined, but his plan was flawed. How could they outrun riders? Obviously, she could not. “Steinburg, what are you—“ “I will make a portal!” He shouted, running into a copse of trees. “You have to hold them off!” Of course, now this was a plan that made sense. However, if he made a portal, where would it go? If Sylvanas truly had a strangle hold on all Horde territory, where could they escape? Allowing Steinburg to work with panicked hands, Ninorra turned toward their adversaries and immediately began casting curses. They would work well against Forsaken, whose flesh was already rotting and corrupt. Unfortunately, she could only cast one at a time, and with all three of them approaching, she had no time to summon a demon to aid her. “Hurry, Steinburg!” She shouted. The first blast hit her squarely in the gut, a chaos bolt that rattled and sent blazing pain throughout her limbs. She returned the favor with a fresh bout of agony, and followed it by draining the life from her target. Forsaken may have had rotting bodies, but leeching from their soul could heal her for a time, and she only needed enough time to— “Lady!” Steinburg was shouting, the portal was finished. Waving her over, she released the soul drain and ran toward Steinburg's creation. “Don’t look back, Ninorra,” the Forsaken said hurredly, grabbing her arm to shove her through the portal. It was then that another chaos bolt hit him in the back, sending him reeling to the ground. “Steinburg!” She shouted, slamming the butt of her scythe to the ground to cast corruption at each of these attackers, each of these creatures that would dare harm her friend. They each seemed, under their armor, to writhe a bit. But what were Forsaken if not accustomed to pain and the reality of their undeath? They would keep moving until there was nothing left. The warrior who spoke before closed the gap between himself and the elf, and without a moments hesitation plunged his blade into Ninorra’s abdomen. She could hardly believe that she had let this happen, and even as shock set in and her limbs froze, she thought to herself how very silly she had been. Is this how it ends? She asked herself, falling backwards through the portal. Instantly, she found herself somewhere dark and warm, lying on her back. Pain radiated from the wound in her belly, a throbbing numbness that ached with each beat of her heart. Her back was wet, her clothes slowly soaking. That she was bleeding to death was obvious, and whatever place she was in seemed like the perfect place for it. The sound of gentle flowing water was nearby, and the rustling of robes. She heard voices somewhere, deep and concerned. A second later, the portal closed. Where was Steinburg? She couldn’t make sense of it, this rush of events. It was too quick and too well executed. Three Forsaken against one elf, who, regardless of any importance she might have imagined for herself, could not defend her friend against them. What a failure. She pictured Qabian somewhere, laughing at her. Then the world went dark.
  26. 2 points
    Clank. Clank. Clank. Catalinetta walked through Undercity, the metal of her boots clanking against the stone floors of ancient Lordaeron. They felt almost unusually loud there, underground, where the Forsaken spoke in scratchy hushed tones and moved in slow, hunched over shambles. She didn't suppose that she was in a hurry, not at first anyhow. The death knight had gone to Undercity with a specific purpose; to find a ring. There were plenty to be had down there, crafted by some of the Forsaken's most talented jewelers, and she knew exactly where to go for what she wanted. Unfortunately, as she reached the edge of the Magic Quarter, certain to find the same bright-eyed Forsaken woman who used to craft her jewelry as a newly risen death knight, Catalinetta saw that she was no longer there. The death knight paused mid-stride, staring ahead at the now empty spot. Tilting her head to one side, she considered briefly that maybe her friend was simply taking a break. Or away, visiting friends in Brill. Without hesitating, she approached another nearby Forsaken who manned a stall selling inscriptions. "Excuse me, sir," she said in her high pitched, if not hollow voice. Cat's eyes glowed with the same eerie blue of her fellow death knights. It was not the dim yellow of the Forsaken, but they often found a kinship in their undeath. Today, however, that did not come as easily. "Death to the living," he said in greeting, his voice hoarse and gravelly. He seemed to have died in mid-life, just old enough to have sprouted a few gray hairs at his temples that hung in thick clumps about his gray face. A lack of flesh in his cheeks that exposed both jawbones gave him a permanently stern expression. "What do you want?" A corner of Cat's mouth twitched. "..yeah, uh... I was wondering if you'd seen Abby?" She asked, her dark gray ears perking a little. Though she was undead, the Sin'dorei's ears still worked as they did in life, reacting to her emotions with little twitches as much her eyebrows. "She was supposed to be here today, I thought. I wanted to buy some jewelry from her." The other vendor's face made no changes. Perhaps if he had been alive she might have seen some sort of change, something in his face to indicate his thoughts on the matter. As it was, he seemed far too corpse-like to emote as she did. "Gone. She won't be coming back." Cat's eyebrows rose, scrunching her forehead in concern. "Where did she go? Is she okay?? Did something happen to her?" Now the vendor's face changed, a slow and creeping grin that gradually pulled at the sagging flesh in his face enough to make his eyes squint like half-moons. "I do not know where she went, death knight," he answered, then frowned again as his face relaxed. Smiling, Cat imagined, must have taken quite a bit of effort on his part. "But I know that she will not be coming back." For a moment, she just stared at him. Admittedly, it had been a while since she'd returned to this place, where the Forsaken once welcomed the death knights to their new status as living dead. Certainly they were different, and there were plenty of Forsaken who were distrustful of Arthas' newer creations. However as time passed, most of the Forsaken grew to learn about the curse of the death knights, their eternal bond to the Lich King, and their inherent need to cause pain. The Forsaken were free, after all. The death knights, in spite of their great strength, would never truly be independent of their creator. Things were even, in a way. So why now did this Forsaken treat her like this, she wondered? Could he tell that there was something amiss? Could he somehow detect the Mogu blood magic that coursed through her black veins, creating the illusion of life even as it reanimated her? Was it a lack of decay? It didn't matter. He was being difficult, and that much was unnecessary. "Look, I don't know what your problem is," she started, pointing a gauntlet-covered finger at the bony creature. "But Abby is my friend. So if you know something, just tell me so I can go find her. Alright?" Again, the Forsaken smiled. It appeared to take less effort this time. "I can not tell you her fate, but your search ends here. Abigaille Lefaye is gone. You might as well leave this city too, death knight. You will not find what you are looking for, here." "But--" "Catalinetta?" Another voice from behind. It was scratchy, hollow and undoubtedly Forsaken, but it was also kind and familiar. She turned to see a man, hunched over but still taller than her. His short black hair, unlike most Forsaken, was usually well kept. Today however, it was matted and disheveled. His typically well cared for robes were frayed and dull, and the once jovial look on his gently rotted face had been replaced with one of terrible remorse. "..mister Steinberg?" Indeed he was. The former accountant of Sanctuary, stolen away by the Bloodstones to Silvermoon when their guild hall was burned to the ground by Garrosh Hellscream. Though he witnessed the death of so many other guild members, one of them his own adopted son, Steinberg carried on. He helped Ninorra raise Damian in her absence. He healed his broken heart by teaching the Sin'dorei boy to read and write, and one again was given another chance at life. In a way. "Yes miss D'Aragon," he said in a slightly pained voice, as if trying to keep the sorrow from slipping. Swallowing something down, his expression turned slightly harsh. "I heard you asking about Miss Lefaye. I'm afraid she's no longer with us. If you'll come with me, I'll show you where you can buy whatever it is you need." Cat's heart sunk at the change in voice. Steinburg had always been kind to her, to everyone. What happened to change him so drastically? Tearing herself away from the other vendor, she walked to her old friend and twisted her hands together. "Sorry if I caused trouble, I just wanted to know if she was okay. Is.. did something happen?" Steinburg lowered a pair of cold yellow eyes to his old friend, the once familiar smile completely gone. "Yes. Now come with me." Following him as the Forsaken shambled away, Cat's eyes were lowered to the moldy stone floor. She held in angry tears, tears she knew would invite too many questions, and vowed to let them out later for her friend. Steinburg led her from the Magic Quarter and walked her, quicker than she would have thought him capable of, toward the elevator. "Where are we going?" "Out," he said quickly, not bothering to look back. To any of the other Forsaken, they looked like a very angry man leading a very confused elf. Both dead, both unhappy, both completely ordinary in a place where nobody should ever be happy. His steps were so quick that Cat almost found herself tripping after him, but by the time they reached the ruins of Lordaeron and rushed past the throne room of its former king, she understood where he was leading her. "Steinburg wait," she said quickly, grabbing his shoulder. The Forsaken didn't slow. "Just keep walking," he said between clenched teeth, frayed robes fluttering around his bare skeletal feet. They clacked about almost as much as her boots, which worried her. Where had his shoes gone? "Steinburg, I--" The orb stood in front of them, a bright ball of red that would take them to Silvermoon. Steinburg grabbed Catalinetta's hand and moved it to the orb, but she wrenched it away. "Wait a second!" she shouted, wrenching her arm back. "What the hell is wrong with you?? I haven't seen you in months and suddenly you're here, and you look terrible, and everything is all weird and sad! What happened to you??" The yellow glow flickered in Steinbeug's eyes. For a moment, a hint of his old self came forward and he nearly smiled at the outburst. She had always been outspoken, even in death, and it had once made him smile. But it was only for a moment. "I am Forsaken," he said simply, the frown returning as he grabbed Catalinetta's arm and pulled her to him, whispering near her long ear. "Now go home. Where you belong." Still not understanding, Cat shook her head. She wanted to argue, to yell at him and get Steinburg to snap out of whatever spell he was under, but then she stopped. His face shifted, so close to hers. It wasn't angry. It was sad. He was trying to tell her something. Go home? She thought. But he doesn't know where I live, now.. She glanced at the orb. Silvermoon. It wasn't her home, per say. Not ever. But it was the home of the Sin'dorei, and she was starting to realize that's what he wanted for her. To go there. But why? "Fine," she grunted irritably. "I'll go back to Silvermoon. Maybe I'll find what I need there." "I'm sure you will," Steinburg muttered bitterly, watching as she grabbed the orb, her form fading from sight before his eyes. A few feet behind him, another hollow voice rung out. "Who was that?" Asked an almost silvery elven voice, though it retained the same echo as his own. Steinburg turned to regard one of the dark rangers, a beautiful elven woman who, even in death, moved soundlessly. "An old acquaintance," he muttered distastefully. "She has no place here." The dark ranger nodded, and glanced back toward the entrance to Undercity. "Good. You might want to get back to work, now. There is much to be done and not as many hands to do it." Steinburg nodded and turned back, resisting the urge to glance behind him at the orb. What point would there be in leaving? The Warchief's eyes were everywhere, and the long ears of the dark rangers heard everything. He would need to think fast. Thankfully, an accountant knew how to calculate all of his options quickly. He had a plan before he reached the bottom of the elevator.
  27. 1 point
    All the feels. Thanks for everything, guys! You were the best, nothing but love!
  28. 1 point
    You guys were great, thanks for all the memories and such! Sowell/Dobzhansky
  29. 1 point
    “You should put another lightforge net on that hill. The hunter has claws like steel and won’t be hindered by a brisk climb,” Brinnea gestured with the stump of her right arm. She felt a phantom finger point as well, but where it should have been there was only empty air. Christa pushed the wheelchair and nodded at a pair of squires, who quickly set to work at the fortifications. “That should do for the east side. What about the north?” “Trenches and stakes. The land rolls down naturally, but it’s hard to see as you enter. She’ll be eager to attack after missing me the last time. Maybe we’ll get lucky and she’ll fall in. More realistically, it will make it harder for her to maneuver out of camp.” Brinnea felt the need to stand and stretch her legs. It was a maddening feeling, the desire to move what cannot be moved. Christa made an affirmative noise and passed the order along. The knights following the sisters seemed less than amused by this display. The dwarf man wearing captain’s colors least of all. “I won’t just stand idly while this death knight gives commands," he had said when Brin asked to be shown around. Brin had replied, “I am merely pointing out what should be done to safeguard against a more threatening undead foe. The safest precaution would be to leave me in the river you fished me from.” Christa cut the head off that conversation immediately. “That takes care of the parameter,” Christa said. “Now we need to discuss where you’ll be during all of this.” “Dangling from a gallows like meat for a trap,” Brinnea replied without a trace of sarcasm. “We talked about that plan.” “It’s the smartest play.” “Not for you, it isn’t.” Brinnea huffed. “It’s not as if I can move myself around anyway. Keeping me in clear view at all times will ensure that monster will be visible as well.” Christa gestured to the watchtower at the center of the encampment. “At the top of that, you’ll have walls and archers about to protect you. We knights are the best equipped to kill this hunter. You won’t be in any danger.” “Not until she cuts through your archers. I don’t need anyone risking their lives for mine.” The dwarf cleared his throat. “Don’t I get a say in this?” Christa scowled. “You had your say, Captain Redstone. But I have the command here, and I have elected to ignore your say.” “We are of equal rank, Velmon! And what you intend to do here is a serious waste of Silver Hand resources!” “A powerful undead abomination is coming right for us. You think I intend to miss that opportunity?” “From all we have heard of this monster, it only cares to kill your no-limbed, deadweight sister and anyone who gets in the way of her.” Brinnea sighed. “The creature is erratic, dangerous, and subservient to a deceased witch of the Burning Legion. Without anyone giving her orders, she’s like to go on a mad killing spree in distress. The safest thing is to put her down using me as bait.” The dwarf sniffed contemptuously. “Aye, you’d know all about killing sprees, wouldn’t you, Butcher?” Christa opened her mouth to reply, but Brin cut her off with a pleading look. The older sister composed herself. “My plan shall come in effect. I am taking my sister to the roof of the tower. Captain, you shall remain below to lead the shield wall. Dismissed.” Christa wheeled Brin away, leaving the stout knight with a flustered expression. *** “Why did you come this way, Brinnea?” Christa asked as they watched the sun set from the roof of the watchtower. The pink light painted the clouds a dreamy color. “I wanted to see Andorhal,” Brin answered. One last time. “To what end? Home is long gone. All we can do now is try to build a new one.” “I tried that a few times. I’m no longer built for such endeavors.” Christa had nothing to say to that. Brin looked her sister up and down. She had always been tall and thickset, but now she was stern and proud and full of purpose. The Light had a plan for her. I was left alone in the dark, despite my cries for help. “What will you do about the limbs?” Christa asked. “You death knights have means of replacing them, right?” “I haven’t counted myself as one of the Ebon Blade for years,” Brin said, “I won’t even be able to make my own rune blade, let alone have limbs replaced.” “You must know someone who could fix you up.” Brin smiled callously. “Haven’t you heard? I’m a friendless killer. A butcher of innocents. Even more sinister folk don’t want anything to do with me. I’m a waystone for bad luck.” Christa’s brown eyes flashed angrily. “I’ve had enough of that despairing tone of yours. Even as a little kid you were always moaning about your lot in life. I need a straight answer from you. No bullshit. Did you kill the Gilneans in Valsharah?” “I may as well have.” “Explain. Speak up and look at me when you talk. Were you not forced to kill them by Cynthia?” The witch’s golden eyes flashed in the back of her mind. You wanted it, the eyes said. You enjoyed it. “It’s true that she commanded me to go to the camp. I was to scout the defenses and begin an attack if the opportunity was ripe.” “And did you?” Brinnea nodded. “I didn’t know whose camp it was until I got there. Esmerra.” Brin spat the name hatefully. “She deserved to die. She sacrificed me, my daughter, and Parigan to that black-hearted devil-woman. She deceived us hoping to profit from our deaths.” “So you killed her?” “I did. I called for the demons to attack. I unleashed undead on the town. And when I had her cornered I showed no mercy. She died screaming, torn to shreds by ghouls. And I…I felt light afterwards. Like I’d removed a stain from the world and took a weight off my shoulders. I’m sick, Christa. There’s something broken in me that can’t be fixed.” Tears welled in her eyes. Brin lifted a hand to wipe them away, but there was no hand to lift. She cursed and rubbed her face on her bicep. “I don’t know about all that,” Christa said nonchalantly. “Mother always said if you’re sick, go to the healer.” Brin looked up at her. “What are you saying?” “I’ve known men and women who went mad on campaign in Northrend. They went to a man in the Storm Peaks, and when they returned they were back to normal.” Brin was about to ask more when a shout called her attention to the base of the tower. “She’s coming! She tore the cavalry to shreds! Ready yourselves, fools!” Christa swore. “Damn Redstone! I told him to hold position, not send our heavy horse out to scout!” She picked herself from her seat and took up her mace and shield. She looked at Brinnea with eyes set like stone. “Stay here. I’ll be back soon.” Brinnea felt a rush of panic. You don’t know that, she almost said. Then Christa was gone. It was full dark now, and torches shone across the camp below. Shouts told Brin where to look. The hunter moved like a shadow in a sea of shadows. She came from the east, down the hillside. The lightforged net didn’t trigger, so she must have leapt over it. Bits of armor and weapons rained down on the defenders, forcing them to stay put as the hunter charged downhill on her spiderlike limbs. The archers nocked, drew, and loosed. The hunter took two blessed arrows and screeched angrily but did not slow down. She barreled into the shield wall. Brin had been expecting her to cut through the paladins like she had the mercenaries in Arathi, but these knights were made of sterner stuff, and blessed by the Light as well. The hunter retreated, pelted by arrows and weapons that burned her at the touch. She spouted acid but shields of light kept the defenders mostly unharmed. The hunter limped around the side, aiming to climb the side of the tower no doubt. Christa emerged from the tower with a pair of squires attending her, each armed with a shimmering silver lance. Christa herself looked fierce in silver plate and bearing a heavy oaken shield against the creature. The hunter leapt overhead, but Christa slammed her out of the air. The trio cornered the beast against the side of the tower. She seemed to have damaged her limbs, so the beast could not scamper up the side to escape. Christa stepped back as the archers hailed arrows down on the hunter. With one final ear-splitting scream, it was over. Brinnea let out a breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. Brin had two of the archers help her downstairs to her wheelchair, where Christa met her. “A quick one, that,” she commented simply. “I can see how you had so much trouble, so poorly armed as you were.” Brin smiled. “You’re not even out of breath. I’ll admit, you’ve gotten pretty good at what you do.” Christa smirked. “Well, I haven’t been sitting on my hands all these years, have I? Do you want to see the body? It might set your mind at ease.” Brinnea nodded. When they reached the corpse, Brinnea realized for the first time how young the girl looked. She must have been a beauty at one time, but not her mouth was twice as long as a normal one and her teeth were a jagged ruin of metal shards. Her eyes were black and yellow and lifeless, but Brin could swear she saw a hint of gratitude in them, as if she were happy to finally be at rest. “Christa,” Brin said, “What’s the name of that man in the mountains? The one who cured those soldiers?” “They never mentioned a name,” she replied. “But I can tell you where to find him.” As they returned to the tent Brin was recovering in, the death knight glanced out at the vast, dark fields of Lordaeron. In the distance she saw lights that she knew belonged to Andorhal, the place she once called home. And in that dark distance, she glimpsed a grey figure lope across the field. The wolf looked at her with uncertain eyes. They were eyes that spoke to her clearly. This is not the end of the road.
  30. 1 point
    12.15.18 So much has happened since I last picked up this book. Teldrassil is burnt to ash. Undercity and Brill are lost to the Alliance. Twilight Empire cornered us in the guildhall, ran us out, and took over the place. Awatu picked Alterac to be our new home. So now we live in among ogres in the middle of nowhere instead of among Forsaken in a respectable town. A couple of the Empire followed me to the farm when I escaped Brill. They took my prisoner—the Tirisfal killer—from me and drove me off my own property. I’m sure they freed the prisoner. I guess they wouldn’t consider her guilty of murder for only killing Forsaken. Since then, the Horde has moved out to Zandalar to make allies of the trolls there. There have been skirmishes here and there with the Alliance since then, in Arathi and Darkshore, and a few on the islands of Zandalar and Kul Tiras, but nothing major. Awatu has named me Irredeemable. I’ve been kept busy organizing our attacks against the Alliance, and planning other hunts and events for Grim, whether for benefit or entertainment. Along with that, I’ve been playing politics with other organizations of the Horde both to make alliances with them and to bolster our own numbers. It has been slow, tedious work to find other organizations like us, that are interested in joining together to hunt Alliance. Killing is so much easier than making friends. I told Canai I would speak to Cobrak and see if any of his company want to fight alongside us as some of them once did. It’s been a while since I visited the Port. I should stop somewhere and get some cookies for Gruk on the way. Darrethy has joined The Grim. I have no doubt his viewpoints and actions are perfectly in line with the Mandate. I’m certain he will be successful here. I saw him at his interview, though I let Qabian do most of the talking, but I haven’t sought him out since. I remember long talks with him and a few others around the fire in the Brokenspear. I stabbed his wife in cold blood once, just to hurt him. I can’t remember now if he had done something to anger me that much, or if I felt too close to him and did it to make him hate me. Maybe a bit of both. Getting too close to someone gives them power over you. It also makes them a target for your enemies. I'm very interested to see how he fares in The Grim.
  31. 1 point
    Down, deep within the sprawl of the Seal's halls, she found the banner the woman had described. An eager-eyed orc stood beside it, dressed in black chainmail with red accents. He addressed her the moment she was in range, before it was even reasonable to assume that his hall was her destination. "Throm-ka, paladin! The Reach could always use more of your kind. Have you come to enlist, following our recent victory?" She continued until she stopped in front of him, her gaze briefly moving to the banner. It was not far removed from the Kor'kron banner Shokkra had kept in her room. To the orc she said, "No, I'm looking for one of your members. Kex'ti, Kex'ti Dalendala." "Dalendala? Oh. Huh. Who're you to him?" the orc asked, hand on his pike. Juli paused, distinctly. Wasn't that quite the question. The answer she finally came up with was, "Julilee Liene. He'll know who I am." "Oh. Uh huh." The orc seemed to know what that meant. "Well, he's back about three torches on the left. Should be sparring with Tulip, Ochiga, Kaeeli, and Gorgath. I'll escort you." He added the very last sheepishly after Juli simply looked at him for a moment, since he stood blocking the doorway. "Thank you." The orc nodded. The thirst for drama was evident in his hurried pace as they entered the Warscar Reach barracks. Past the third torch, the hallway angled down to a veranda with overhanging vines. A sandy ring lay in the middle. A white-haired Sin'dorei stood in the center of the arena, a burly Blackrock orc and a lithe Nightborne strafing around him. He hadn't noticed the newcomers yet. "Think fast, old man!" yelled the Nightborne then, rushing in to take a swing at the back of the elf's head. The orc growled and charged in at the same time, low, aiming to tackle the elf's waist. Outside of the arena, a goblin kicked her feet on a planter, and a pandaren monk sipped at a cup of tea, cross-legged, as they watched the sparring match. Juli stood in the archway and observed. Kex'ti twisted lithely and leaned back to catch the Nightborne's fist, only to spy Julilee as he did so. A moment of confusion crossed his face. "Juli?" he muttered, then the orc's converted uppercut connected with his jaw. The phenomenal strike landed him in the Nightborne's arms, caught and hanging limply by the armpits. "Whoa, hey, wait a second!" called the goblin. "Kex'ti, you alright?" She hopped off the decorative container and walked over, summoning a few drops of healing rain onto the sand. "I wasn't expecting that to work!" boasted the orc. "But... are you okay?" Kex'ti never took his eyes off Juli. He spat some blood into the muddy dirt. "I am fine, everyone. Excuse me a moment." He held a hand to his cheek and began to mend the damage as he regained his feet. Then he walked calmly over towards her, limping only slightly. Juli stayed where she was, letting Kex'ti approach. Seeing him... It felt different. Everything was different now. It evoked feelings she wasn't allowed to have anymore. She found she didn't know what to say, and was silent. He looked different. He was dressed in sparring leathers in red and black. The red on black of his tabard looked out of place compared to the purple and gold he'd worn for so many years. His beard was much better kept, very close to the sides of his angular face. He'd lost a lot of weight. He'd never been fat, exactly, but it was clear the traveling with a military branch left little time for him to bulk up to his usual size, or perhaps the lack of quality food... None of it mattered. He was there. She was looking upon him. And she could tell him what she'd spent every day these past six months hoping she'd have a chance to say. "I see you have matched your hair to mine," he chuckled. She'd forgotten how different she looked, too. Her armor was no longer muted purple and gold, but white, dark gray, and gold, and lacking tabard, pauldrons, or shield. And her hair, long now, had become as white as his. The last changes she hadn't known about until she came across the mirror in the ruins. Her eyes no longer glowed green. They glowed gold. The differences were so striking that it was remarkable he had recognized her instantly. No one else would have. "Yeah, I guess." She paused. The words wouldn't come out, hardly. "I just wanted you to know I'm alive. I thought... You would want to know." "Should we go somewhere to talk?" he asked. "Probably." He raised a hand to his eyes and rubbed them. "Fine, let us head out to the general concourse." He walked past her, causing the orc guard, who had been hovering, to start hastily moving back toward his post. The goblin in the arena called after Kex'ti. "Uh, you want your staff?" "No, Tulip. I will not be long," he said, wearily. He glanced to Julilee, and nodded out back towards the humid mid-day heat.
  32. 1 point
    Brinnea woke to a searing pain and a dull hunger. She lay in a simple cot with a scratchy blanket, but it may as well have been a cloud for how much she could feel of it. When she tried to move, her body rebelled and lay still. Her arm and leg itched furiously. She tried to scratch at her arm but found that her left hand was missing – as was her right arm. Memory flooded back along with another wave of pain. She didn’t bother trying to reach her itching phantom leg. “Brin, you’re awake,” a familiar voice said at her left side. Brin struggled just to turn her head and look. “Christa,” she rasped. Her sister. She stood by the bed looking haggard; her armor was dinted and dingy, her hair messy and overgrown, and her eyes were bloodshot and drooping. She was the most beautiful thing Brinnea had seen in months. Christa adjusted the covers on Brinnea’s body. “We don’t have a proper healer here for you,” she said, “But I plan on capturing some animals for you. It should help you get back to your feet.” She winced when she realized what she said. “Where are we?” Brinnea asked. “A small farmstead. The Silver Hand is helping the farmers get settled in safely. With the Forsaken distracted to the west and south, we finally have some breathing room to rebuild Lordaeron.” “The war still rages?” Brinnea wasn’t sure why she cared, but she asked anyway. “Yes, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. Sylvanas escaped when Lordaeron fell to the Alliance. Forsaken resistance is still strong in places. Not strong enough to kick up fuss about us knights.” “You remained neutral?” Christa nodded. “And I intend to stay that way. If we play our cards right, Andorhal might be free for human settlement again soon. I thought I might open an inn there if that happened.” “That would suit you,” Brin said. “I wish I could be there to see it.” “You aren’t dead yet, sister. Not truly.” “It’s only a matter of time. Besides, Andorhal won’t be a home for me. Only another place full of enemies.” “You don’t know that for certain,” Christa said, but she didn’t sound like she believed herself. When Brinnea was silent for a long while, Christa stood to take her leave. “Thank you,” Brinnea said. “Christa, thank you.” She opened the door and replied without looking back, “It’s what sisters are for, aren’t they?”
  33. 1 point
    The first rays of sunlight pierced through the gloom and stabbed straight into the weary eyes of the pale troll who had taken the lead. When he stopped short with a curse, Tahzani walked straight into his back. Even with a mixture that was more water than liquor, the alcohol had proven potent enough to provide them both with a sense of inebriation that followed them throughout the night. Sipping on the watered down slammer had warded away most of the chill, leaving them both uncomfortable, but it had succeeded in keeping them alive against the chill. After an hour of passing the bottle back and forth his companion's tongue had loosened and the time was spent listening to the man ramble from one story to the next with frequent distractions, rambling, and irrelevent tangents. Tahzani almost regretted not remembering a word of it. Fatigue that had nothing to do with sleep deprivation or exertion had become more and more prominent since he had left the city. Even as his companion talked for hours on end, Tahzani struggled to keep moving in a straight line. "We made good time, but we gotta stop." Dock stated, peering blearily at the stone wall before them. The mass of rock had only become visible when the sky had begun to lighten as if in invitation.The land sank into cayons and rose into terraces of stone, dark brown against the cold tan of the dunes surrounding it. In time, it would offer shade from the burning glare. "We ain't got enough watah ta mix left. We can drink it straight ta survive anuddah night but we'll be dyin' a thirst even quickah." Tahzani sighed, licking his lips and glancing towards the canyon. At the moment, he would have welcomed the warmth of a horrifically hot day with open arms. "A few hours of sun exposure is going to exhaust what little water we have left. I don't want to face whatever else rises with the sun without proper rest. It was your idea to push away from the others, now we gotta make this work or we are both dead. Pushing ourselves until we drop or run into a real threat is a sure way to achieve the latter." Dock stated, setting his lips into a grim line as he stared at the taciturn bartender. Tahzani spared the rocks a weary look as he considered their options. The darkened pathway between the rocks held little appeal when his mind had been set on trudging a few miles further. The sight of thin, green leaves poking out of the ground changed his mind. "Look... Grass." "...Aye Mon. I know what grass is." The exile said slowly. Perhaps the chill of the night had frozen his brain and it needed time to thaw. "Grass means watah. It might be deep but-" " It might also mean plants we can use." Dock said, catching on and flashing a grin filled with tobacco stained teeth. " Exactly, ah figure we got an hour befoah de sun be up. Dunno what be edible heah but we should look an' be quick about it." His words lacked the force required to inspire. But the next moment both trolls were striding with purpose into the winding stone canyons. ------- "What about-" "Do not drink the cactus." "But I seen-" "The after effects? The water in there is acidic. You gonna give yourself the shits drinking that by itself... Take the young pads though, there might be something we can do with them." Dock spared the bartender an annoyed look. Ever since the sun had risen, the troll had become even more sluggish and he was struggling with even basic tasks. "Just look for broad, green leafy plants." The other troll sighed, drawing the blade on his side as he spotted a healthy looking plant and began digging at its base. Tahzani watched the other troll work without comprehension or basic awareness. He should have kept looking but he could not draw himself away from the digging troll. The death of his drive had begun with the loss of momentum. He was dimly aware of what they needed here, yet when they stopped, all he could think about was lying down. Not even to sleep. "Ahahahahaaaa!" His partner's cackle roused some life into his dulled senses. The hole he had dug into the roots of the plant was beginning to fill with gritty water. It did not stop the other troll from leaning down to drink deeply from the puddle. "Quickly mon! Gimme the skin!" Dock gasped, holding out a hand towards him. Tahzani stared at the hand for several moments before he seemed to understand and handed off the deflated skin to his partner. It only took a few scoops from the shallow water to drain it too low. When the puddle was too shallow to effectively fill the skin, Dock stepped away to allow Tahzani to wet his swollen throat. With or without sand, the water was a welcome relief. "This should be enough for one more night. Let's find a place to get some shut-eye." Dock rumbled, his spirits notably higher as he strode past the stooped bartender with purpose. Tahzani tarried a few seconds longer before staggering after him. The optimistic attitude was short lived as the two wandered through the winding pathways carved through the stone. There was no shortage of cracks and small crevices to trip over and stub their toes on, but none that were large enough to slip into. An hour passed as the two staggered and cursed their way through the passes before they found an indent in the stone. It was deep enough to provide relief from the heavy heat that had begun to weigh them down. He missed the question when it was asked the first time, too focused on the relief of getting off of his feet. "What?" "I asked, what the hell is wrong with you?" "Ya want a fuckin' list?" "Last night you had one idea that seemed insane but it worked. Now? Ya head be on de moon." Tahzani twisted his lip and remained silent. It was an answer he had been curious about. The lethargy had been slow to start but spread quickly. "Ah don' know." "What do ya mean ya don't know?" "Just that. A few days outta de city an' errytin' got hardah. Thinkin' about escape turned inta strugglin' ta focus. Was able ta walk an' talk but even das gettin' hahd now." "Ya been huffing?" "Jah... But das not it." "Ya sure?" "Aye. Even de worst cravings not been like dis." "Snorting?" "What? No." "Shooting?" "How does dat-No!" "Licking?" "Licking?" "Toads." "NO! Ah'm not a junkie!" Tahzani snapped at his companion. The other troll had sunk down beside him with his eyes closed and a slight smile curling his lip at the bartender's outrage. " Could have fooled me. Fine, don't tell me." "Ah slung de Fel." Tahzani snapped without enthusiasm, resting his head against the wall after the proclamation. When his friend made a knowing sound in the back of his throat he lazily swiveled his head towards him to tiredly glare. "What?" "The Fel. I have heard enough stories about it." "Yeah well ah'm not messin' wit it. Not anymoah." "Maybe that might be the problem? Your greenskinned friends went through a similar struggle did they not?" "Withdrawals don' kick in months latah. If jah be hooked on it, it could be hours befoah jah want anudda hit. Even wit as little as ah used ah woulda felt sometin' before today." "Are you sure about that?" "Well, ah was a second ago." The bartender muttered. Apparently satisfied, Dock folded his arms across his stomach and settled down. "Ya good ta take de first watch?" "Aye. I'll wake jah in a few hours." Tahzani sighed, rubbing at his eyes before staring down the path they had come from. He had reached an odd point of fatigue where he lacked the energy to feel exhausted. Deigning not to point out the other troll's state. Dock closed his eyes. The sun was high in the sky and edging towards a descent when Tahzani's time for rest was cut short by urgent shaking. " Mon! We gotta move!" Dock hissed glancing down the path to their right as he roused the Revantusk. Tahzani muttered incoherently, his eyes gummy and his vision blurred. Befuddled by sleep, he offered no resistance as the troll grabbed him by the forearms and hauled him to his feet. "We gotta move!" " Ah heard jah! Fuck! Don' gotta be so loud mah ears are ringin'." He growled irritably before cocking his head and blinking his eyes clear. His ears were not ringing, they were buzzing with the heavy reverberations of rapidly moving wings. A bass, droning buzz. When a shadow flew by overhead, his exhaustion disappeared and both trolls took off running. The blood pounding through his veins gave him clarity and pushed away the exhaustion for the moment as he focused entirely on keeping up with the athletic troll in front of him. The droning buzz only grew louder and more agitated as they ran. He risked a glance over his shoulder and regretted it immediately. The shadow had been a scout, now the workers and the defenders had arisen to darken the skies. Dozens or hundreds of winged insects were behind them and moving forward. He barely avoided colliding with Dock when the other troll skidded to a halt. The narrow path had widened into a broad, circular area no longer than a hundred feet across before it turned narrow again. The walls were covered in the bulbous hives of the wasps. The defending wasps were the size of dogs while the drones were the size of his fingers. He could easily count the number of defenders but the little ones were too numerous to even guess at. His companion spat out an oath and glanced over his shoulder. They had drawn the attention of the swarm behind them. "We run through there an we'll be flayed alive." "An' if we stay put, we gonna get swarmed." Tahzani protested, earning a stressed look from the exile. The anger disappeared as he shoved a hand inside of Tahzani's pocket, earning an indignant squawk and an frightened jerk backwards by the bartender. "Ah ain't grabbin' YA bottle i'm grabbing THE bottle! Shut up!" Dock groused, pulling the obsidian glass bottle from his pocket. "Dock no!" Tahzani wailed, too late as the bottle had already been hurled towards one of the closer hives of alerted wasps. It would have been a solid plan, a short explosion to disrupt the wasps and a flaming hive to send them into a confused panic while the two ran for their lives. But the magical fire the man expected had always required other components to start. None of which would be found in broken glass. The heavy bottle shattered explosively, raining shards of thick, black glass onto the smaller wasps and even tearing the delicate wing of one of the defenders, sending it buzzing into the earth. The rain of glass was mixed with a rain of thick, black liquid that painted the hive and the wasps alike with what remained inside. Dock froze with a confused, fearful expression. Where was the flame? The buzzing grew louder as the insects became enraged. Dock ripped the blade from his waist with his free hand as he tugged Tahzani forward. The bartender had closed his eyes in a look of silent submission. As if he was awaiting his end. In truth, it was taking Tahzani everything he had to work out the spell. He had yet to succeed with anything Paiyuna had tried to teach him, and in the dreadful moment, he believed he knew why it had never worked. As the insects approached, he reached out a hand towards the glaring, fiery orb above him. The wasps had been eating far too well lately. There were too many exiles to feast upon and not enough of anything else to support the explosive population growth. Balance was needed. The beam was miniscule, only notable because of the shade that the drenched nest resided in. But the spark was enough. The insects scattered as flames roared up the wall and began to greedily devour the hive. The tongues of flame lashed at large and small insects alike, uncaring and all consuming. When every other creature scattered in a panic away from the flame, the trolls shot towards the exit. The exile arced the blade through the air at one of the more resilient defenders, slicing through the barbed stinger and out through the sternum to spill its insides out. Torn between panic and a surge of joy at the accomplishment, Tahzani barely managed to block a stringer with his arm rather than his skull. The knife sized stinger twisted just right to thread the needle between his bones of his forearm and pass clear through the meat of the limb He had not even registered the pain when another slash from Dock freed the stinger from the creature's body, leaving the confused bartender with a brand new piercing. "It went though." He informed his companion in a tone of disbelief as the sudden shock wore off and the delayed agony surged forward. "We'll get it out later! RUN!" Dock ordered, giving his unmaimed arm another tug. The next second he let go again to cleave through a curious wasp that had come to investigate the noise from further down the tunnel. Tahzani raised the wounded limb again as another wasp fell upon him. He greeted the next wound with a scream as the stinger buried itself into his arm an inch away from the first and released a burning venom into the meat of his limb. The creature pulled the stinger out with a sudden jerk, sawing through flesh with the barbs as it readied itself for another stab. Scrambling wildly with the other limb, Tahzani found a hefty stone to swing at the plunging blade, cracking the weapon and wrenching it free of the wasps's body to dangle by a string. Tahzani leapt back up to his feet and staggered away from the mess, hurling his newfound weapon at another attacking insect as he staggered after Dock. The other troll was shouting for him to hurry as he continued to slash and cleave with a flash of steel and a spray of ichor accompanying each motion. The swarm had caught him by then, showing particular interest in the already infected flesh as they focused on covering the limb.In the moment, all he could focus on was the simple task of running before the ones with the big stingers got there. The tiny stingers stabbing into his chest tickled by comparison. His heart was hammering into his ribs with every moment as panic seized him. His arm ached abysmally but not nearly as much as it should have. Even as he watched, he saw bits of his flesh being ripped off and chewed by tiny mandibles. Before his very eyes, he was being eaten by the swarm. He screamed incoherently as he slapped at the insects with his free hand, crushing some and backhanding others away. Casings cracked and stingers were ripped free in ways that should have hurt far more than they did. They shot out of the pathways out onto a descending dune of sand leading down to patches of an old, stone road. Bare feet slapped the stone loudly as they fled the swarm. It was unclear which one of them was shouting or if they were both adding to the already deafening racket. ------------ He was not sure when the creatures stopped pursuing them, but when he collapsed they were thankfully nowhere to be seen. His throat was as dry as a kiln and every breath he sucked into aching, burning lungs. He felt uneven and even rolling onto his back took more effort than it should have. Against his better judgement, he looked down to look at the damage the swarm had inflicted. From the edge of his bicep downward, his arm was a mess of chewed flesh and discolored, grotesquely swollen bumps. The limb had grown as thick as his thigh in places, resembling bunch of punctured grapes still on the stem. As horrible as it looked, he felt little more than a mild burning sensation. "It's... It's not dat bad right?" He asked in a quivering voice as Dock approached him with a guarded expression. "De venom, it isn't dat bad, right?" He quietly plead, hoping that the grim faced exile had some sort of reassurance. He began to shiver as the other exile removed his belt and cinched it down tightly above the damaged flesh. "I'll heal! Ah just need time!" His voice rose an octave as his companion drew the blade again with a sickened expression and forced a dirty cloth into Tahzani's mouth. His heart pounded in his chest and fear locked his limbs as he stared at the man with a naked blade. "Aye mon... It will all heal with time." Dock promised with a soft, kind tone reserved for calming frightened animals. " Close ya eyes. Ya won't want to watch this." He murmured, positioning his blade above the damaged limb. Dock was right.
  34. 1 point
    The Exodar: At last there was a response on his hearthstone, an unfamiliar woman's smoke-roughened voice gave a quivering reply. "Are you, Aruku?" "Yes, where's Janala?!" A pause, then, "I'm... I'm sorry. We got trapped in the burrows. My child and I, she shared her hearthstone with us. We all tried to use, but she didn't... make it." Janala's hearthstone had been set to their home, here on Azuremyst. The bottom dropped out of his previously clenched stomach, leaving him feeling cold and alone. They were gone, his wife and his unborn daughter both. "... Hello?" It took him a long moment to regain enough composure to reply, voice thick with emotion, "Thank you, for letting me know." Long ears wilted and shoulders drooping he stared at what was now the funeral pyre for two of his loved ones, along with many other unfortunates. Some time later his kids found him, having come up to see as well. They all hugged one another, a small family group among the crowd of many. "Where's mom?" One of them asked timidly, afraid of the answer. Looking at the kids surrounding him the young man swallowed his feelings, forcing them to the back and locking them away. Vemy was right, he was going to be needed even more right now. They all were. "Don't worry, I'm sure she's fine. She's a druid, she can fly, remember?" Forcing a smile he tried to reassure the kids and keep them calm. Once they weren't needed for the injuries coming from Darnassus, then they could mourn. "But there's gonna be a lot of people from the big tree who'll need our help, so let's go back inside and start, aye?" Giving each a kiss and hug he went back inside with them, dropping them off on the way to the clinic. When he came back the elf was no longer smiling. Instead a subdued, grim person returned and went quietly to work, eyes hollow with pent up loss. Finishing his shift with Vemy he saw her off, then went back in to keep working. Sanjay seemed to have the same idea. The monk had not left the hospital since he returned to the Exodar, and had worked through several assistants in the whirlwind days since. He adopted Aruku during nightly rounds and forced a cup of tea into the elf’s hand. “If you intend to stay and you wish to be useful, you will drink that and steel yourself,” he says. Aruku didn't balk and simply drank the tea, not noticing the taste at all. "Alright." He couldn't sleep anyways. Being assistant to Sanjay kept him occupied and they worked together in quiet accord. It was like a grim test of stamina between the two as they settled into a work rhythm. Working their way through the next few days without sleep and only taking breaks for necessities the pair efficiently treated as many victims and refugees as they could; mostly those folk from Teldrassil or near it who had gotten 'lucky' in escaping via means other than the portal to Stormwind. Azuremyst was the nearest safe port for anyone without teleportation. It was dawning on the third day after the tragedy when the thin blood elf finally collapsed between one step and the next, having driven himself to his limits. Strain lined his face even while unconscious, leaving him looking worn out and used up. With all the beds in the clinic and its overflow area filled it ended up being Vemy who took the exhausted young man home and put him in bed there. With her husband gone there was plenty of room for a scrawny elf and between her shifts she took care of him too. ----------------------------------- Resting he might be in bed but Aruku's mind was fitful, struggling to make sense of everything that had happened. The Horde set fire to Teldrassil, a World tree. Those damn stupid orcs, those hateful undead. Why had no one stopped it? Why had no one stood up? What had the Tauren been doing with all their Earthmother talk? The blood elves should have known destroying a magical world tree was bad! Even the goblins should have recognized that Teldrassil was more profitable existing than being ashes! …. did those in the Horde he had counted as friends, had they been part of this? Had people he'd healed been the cause of this suffering? Even unprovoked, the Horde would attack and kill. They might as well be The Grim. He could feel bitterness replacing the emptiness inside of him, that once had held such love for everyone and everything. Was this how the world had always been, and the Light had just made him blind to it? Without Janala he alone had to raise all these kids; find a way to support, feed and clothe them. Bitterness sparked anger, helplessness turned into frustration. Without magical talent, physical prowess or mental sharpness how was he supposed to do that? Alchemy made some gold, but all the best herbs were in dangerous places. And worst of all he looked like a Horde. Aruku was almost tempted to fix that by embracing the Void but some lingering bit of self preservation kept him from doing it. With the state of mind he was in he'd be lost to it immediately. Driven with no goal he rose, mechanically taking his hearthstone to set up a place for his kids to be taken care of while he lost himself in trying to find a new path to follow, a reason to continue.
  35. 1 point
    Things continued that way for some time. The routine changed when Sanjay returned with the new patients and healers. The clinic exploded in size and began to resemble a true hospital, albeit with few real walls or beds. Though it was easy to get lost in the tangled mass of wounded, sick, and healers, Aruku found himself constantly working alongside Vemynisa. Every day they grew more in-sync, able to assist one another with barely a word spoken between them. The Draenei spoke to the elf freely about nearly anything, and was an attentive listener when Aruku spoke. While Aruku didn't seem to think the near constant presence of Vemy was odd, he did end up opening up and relaxing around her more, acting more his normal self. That came with both raunchy jokes, casual flirting & talk of his family, at least as far as she was comfortable with. One of their break conversations over hot beverages; coffee for Vemy, tea for Aruku; turns to baking plans to treat the staff. Both of them have spouses who are hazards in the kitchen so it'd be a nice change of pace to make food with someone else... and maybe afterwards they can enjoy one another's company in a different way. Before more plans are made Sanjay bursts into the room, clenching his jaw with iron strength. “Those damn maniacs...you two haven’t heard yet, have you?” He glances between the two, his eyes stern and angry, but underneath the anger there lies something Aruku has never seen in Sanjay before. Fear. Puzzlement and worry showed on the thin man's face, and by the lack of reaction it was evident before he even spoke that he hadn't heard. "What happened?" While his mind flew through several thoughts he wasn't about to presume what it might be yet. “It’s Teldrassil,” the monk says, “The Horde set fire to it. The entire tree is ablaze.” Vemynisa gasps. She puts a hand over her mouth. “By the Naaru...” Aruku stared blankly at Sanjay for a long moment, his mind refusing to grasp what the words meant. Teldrassil couldn't be completely on fire, it was giant! When Sanjay's expression didn't change his golden eyes grew wide in alarm and he spun to dash for the door. While recklessly speeding off he dug out his hearthstone, trying to reach his wife in Darnassus to let her know if she didn't already. Sanjay sidesteps, still cursing under his breath. Vemynisa leaps to her hooves and races after the elf. "Aruku!" she calls after him, "I--I think we're going to need you even more now..." She fidgets nervously. Too wrapped up in the panic of trying to make sure his wife was alive and safe, and needing to see this with his own eyes the blood elf bolted out of the clinic and across the Exodar. It seemed everyone was still in a bit of shock at the news so he managed to exit unhindered, panting as he passed through the bits of wall around the city till he could get a view of Teldrassil. Already there was dark smoke making a smudge on the sky in that direction, under lit by an angry orange light. He wasn't the only one out here either. Others had come out to stare in horrified disbelief to the north east. Men, women, young, old, all were gathered in an eerie quiet vigil only broken by sobbing here and there.
  36. 1 point
    Let's try this again, before someone else comes to see me. I haven't written anything in a while. I used to just dump all of my emotions into these journals and in the end I'd feel a little better, but I don't know if it ever solved anything. Lately I think I've been dumping most of those emotions into Garinth, poor guy. He doesn't deserve that, even if he is my shaman. He talked through the Night Vanguard business, the fact that our connection to them makes us a target, and that was important for me to keep in mind when I broke our ties with them. Unfortunately, it goes a lot deeper then that. Because as much as I don't want to put us all at risk, I might consider it if I knew the Vanguard would have our best interests in mind. As it is, I don't think they do, and that's troubling. I don't want to alarm our "in-betweeners", but I think the war is drawing closer to us than we can fight off for much longer. I've already received a request to the warfront in Arathi. The Horde is attempting to gain a foothold in the north. A strategic move, supposedly, but I don't see the benefit of us being there. That's my head talking. My heart wants me to go for stupid reasons, pride especially. If the Alliance does away with our bases in Arathi, Hammerall will go. I have no good memories of Hammefall, really. Nothing but the day Thrall came and liberated us. My father is dead. There's nothing left for me, so why do I want to protect it? Because my mother is buried there, somewhere? It's just earth. It means nothing, except for some stupid reason it means something. I keep trying to remember something, anything good that might make me want to go back, but even my mother trying to protect me is painful. I'm the reason she died. I suppose going to war over bad memories would be a shit way to show my gratitude. Still, there's something in me that wants it. That pride. I know there will be fighting, that brutal bloody warfare that we sing about. I refuse to believe there is honor in attempting to conquer someone else's home, but the Trollbanes aren't weak. They would put up a good fight, and there would be shouts and metal and brutality to remember forever. Just thinking about me gets me anxious. I want what I know is the wrong thing. I just have to distract myself with worthy causes and try to ignore the fact that my birthplace is a battlefield. It's difficult. I miss having someone to talk to. At least the pups are here. They're terrible at cuddling, so I'm teaching them. I hope their new partners appreciate all the work I'm putting into their cuddle training.
  37. 1 point
    “How are you handling things, little wolf?” Holun asked curiously, not struggling on the hike nearly as much as either of the Frostwolf pair. There was little that Garinth could do to rush acclimating to the high altitude, but the work had to be done. All he could do was move slowly and try not to stress himself or Greywind too much. As he looked up to his white furred guide, the tauren added, “Generally, I mean. You seem...perhaps better off than last we met.” Chest heaving as they paused to take a break, Garinth gave a nod. “Your guidance helped,” he replied with a raise of his eyebrows. “I’m not...I’m not trying to use them to be something else anymore. I wasn’t ever going to be what my father was.” The shaman reached for his waterskin then, and took a long draw from the cool water within. “There’s more to it than that,” Holun replied with a wizened smile, his demeanor shifting subtly and growing more relaxed as he leaned against his walking staff. “You carry yourself differently, straighter perhaps. Even your grandmother seemed more at ease when we spoke last night.” That earned a weak smile from the half-orc, and a swift shake of his head. “That’s not entirely my own doing, Holun. I feel, lately at least, that I have been fulfilling my purpose. I’m training with the Winds, but most of my time has been occupied with offering guidance and shelter. The organization I belong to underwent a shuffle of leadership a few months back, and I was called to help with it.” The tauren gave a thoughtful hum in reply, and then made sure that his traveling companions were ready before starting to move up the mountain again. Mid stride, Holun’s shoulders seemed to hunch a little and his age grew more apparent. “Is that why you’re here then? More of this...guidance and shelter business?” “Everyone else is too consumed with the war,” Garinth replied, having to break up his sentences to breathe again as he trudged along behind. Greywind continued alongside him in silence, panting but otherwise seeming mostly at ease in the thing air. “They either want to avoid it or...join it. None of my ancestors have any experience with it. My position...involves keeping members safe so... someone needs to be looking for ways to protect ourselves from these things. And maybe...maybe it’ll help with what’s happening to Azeroth too.” “You’re not a member of the Ring anymore, little wolf,” Holun chided quickly, “If you were, you would know they had already been here to see what could be made of the wards. I doubt you will glean anything they have not already.” The reproach quieted the half-orc, and he resorted to following along in silence afterward. The was plenty enough to look at on the hike, so near to the mountain’s peak granting a broad vantage of the Broken Isles. It was nearly an hour later that they reached their destination, and the tauren stopped to point a a hollow ahead. “That stone in the center there, that marked the location of this ward. We should have a few hours up here before we need to head back down for the day.” The tauren paused then, and gave the shaman a quick look over. “Will that be long enough?” Garinth’s gaze drew distant then, but after a few moments he nodded. “It’ll have to be. Even if I wanted to set up camp here, there’s not enough shelter in that bowl to keep safe from the storms.” Holun gave a simple nod to the half-orc’s appraisal, and began to lead them down into depression.
  38. 1 point
    Hi guys, and welcome to roleplay! This guide is designed to give you a basic understanding of where to begin, terms and basic etiquette so you can feel comfortable when just starting out, as well as some suggested addons and additional resources. Please note that some of the terms and concepts I mention you may have heard of before: this is because this guide is meant to cover as much as possible from the ground up! GLOSSARY OF TERMS/ABBREVIATIONS RP - RolePlay, in context usually referring to a group of people creating a story within the bounds of the lore of the game IC - In Character, this refers to any speech, thoughts, actions or anything else that is created from a character's perspective. If you someone says they are "IC" it means that they are currently playing the character and any actions or things they say are interpreted as coming from the character OOC - Out Of Character, essentially the opposite of IC, its anything that’s just coming from the player themselves and not the character, if someone says they're doing something "OOC" it means that whatever they're doing isn't the actions of the character Canon - This refers to anything that is accepted by the RP community as being fact, or existing, this can refer to lore that exists in the game itself or it can be used to talk about events that have happened in RP. Example: "Is it actually canon that your character plays the saxophone?" If you said that as a joke OOC, the answer would be no, if it’s actually in character that your character plays the sax, the answer is yes PM/DM/Whisper - sending someone a private message Powerlevel - refers to how powerful characters within a community are, different guilds and RP communities operate on different powerlevels. Some guilds might be playing their characters as able to take down a wild god and others might play their characters as common footsoldiers who can only really go toe to toe with a gnoll PC/OC - Player Character or Original Character, this refers to the characters people play generally for an extended period of time. Usually this is reflected by an actual character that they have ingame. NPC - Non Player Character, this can either refer to a character written by Blizzard who exists in the game and is not played by any player or characters invented for short term usage by players that are played within roleplay to further a story. Example: I once briefly played a judge for a scene where some PCs were in trouble with the law ERP - Erotic Roleplay, roleplay with a sexual/erotic context Post - Used more commonly to describe out of game rp (discord/forum/tumblr), a post contains all the actions and dialog a character of a certain moment, generally rotating players post by post as the rp progresses Scene - this usually refers to one session of rp in a single setting, if you have a conversation in a bar with someone, and then later meet up with them to kill skeletons, those are two different scenes Storyline/Campaign - an overarching story that takes up multiple scenes, usually with several characters DM/GM - Dungeon Master/Game Master, a term taken from DnD, this is the person who guides a storyline and is ultimately in control of where it goes and what opposition the players face Metagaming - Using OOC knowledge to give a character an advantage IC OP/Powergaming - (OverPowered) Someone who uses a powerlevel much higher than the people they are RPing with PvP - Player versus Player, anything that pits one player or PC against one another PvE - Player versus Environment, pitting player or players against NPCs RP Dissonance - a descriptor for when two characters/stories are incompatible because of conflicting lore/character interactions with the world/power level/etc. Example: two characters that both have and always carry The Ashbringer IC trying to interact Tavern/Campfire RP - RP that is generally relatively unattached to a storyline and is simply a social venture Godmodding - taking control of another player's character in a roleplay (very bad) OOC vs IC The first and most basic thing to understand when starting out in roleplay is that IC and OOC are separate things and should be kept separate. Your character can hate my character and we can still be friends as players! It's extremely important to keep communication OOC open to prevent any hard feelings. If someone says something mean to you in character; understand that it does not mean that they don't like you OOC. Generally though, if you are saying something mean or hurtful to someone IC it’s a good idea to reassure them OOC. Usually when RPing in game you'll have a channel that's dedicated to talking OOCly: sometimes this is an actual chat channel in game that you can /join <channel name>, many guilds will have these and TNRH also has community and /join RP for the whole server, but sometimes it's just party or raidchat. Whatever channel you use will likely be labeled or agreed on beforehand, but if you ever have to say something OOC in an IC channel you can denote that by putting a double parenthesis on either side: ((like this! Anything written in here will be understood to be OOC)) Sometimes people will just tack them on the end of a single line or post and it will mean the same thing.)) In game, /say and /emote (or /me) are pretty much always considered to be IC when RPing. Generally, if you're not sure if a channel in game is IC or OOC (/guild might vary by guild for example) just ask with the ((double parenthesis.)) In forums, they are usually labeled by section as to whether they're IC or OOC. In discord RP, usually IC channels and OOC channels are specified by either channel name or category. SPELLING, GRAMMAR and ACCENTS Generally speaking in roleplay you're going to want to write with proper grammar and spelling to the best of your ability. If you have some difficulty that causes more than average errors, such as dyslexia or if you're RPing in a language that isn't your first, it might be a good idea to let your partner know OOCly that you care about the RP but might have a bit of trouble with spelling or grammar. In my experience everyone is extremely understanding of someone who's having trouble as long as they know it's not a reflection on how the person feels about the RP (like if you’re just being sloppy because you don’t care). It's worth noting that usually nobody minds a few typos or bungled sentences, it's only when things get genuinely difficult to read that it usually really becomes an issue. If someone has a hard time reading what you write, they may be less inclined to RP with you. With legibility in mind, let's talk accents. If you want to play a character with an accent, you'll want to adjust your dialog to match the appropriate phonetics of that accent. For example, dwarves generally speak with something akin to a scottish accent, so if you're playing a dwarf, you'll likely want to change the dialog to match that. Keep in mind you should only change the dialog, there's no reason to carry your accents into any emotes or actions you might perform. Furthermore, when you do an accent try to keep a certain level of readability, your accent might be spot on with more letter substitutions and clipped gerunds but there's a certain point where everyone around you is scratching their heads on what you could possibly be saying. It's hard to RP with someone if you can't understand anything they're saying! To use an example, in the movie Brave the main character says: "Mom, it's just my bow" which would be totally acceptable, but perhaps feels a little bland to you, so you could write "Maaaaauhm, eet's joos' meh boooo" which is still technically the same sentence, if a bit hard to parse, so maybe something closer to "Mum, it's jus' me bow" which more or less gets across that the character is speaking with this accent without making it overtly hard to read, about average between the two earlier ones Where you want to fall on the scale of no accent to heavy accent in your writing is entirely on you and your preferences there's no 'correct' way to write accents, but do try and keep in mind that someone else has to read that accent and hopefully understand it. Again, OOC vs IC, its possible for a character to not understand an accent, but in general you want the player to be able to understand it. ROLEPLAY “RULES” - BASIC RP ETIQUETTE Before I get into the “rules” of RP, I want to sort of put forth a disclaimer - people don’t always follow these, and some of these aren’t things I would personally necessarily call “bad” in an RP; this isn’t any kind of callout and if you do these things I’m not looking to make you feel bad about it. This is mostly “people may find this rude, so don’t be surprised if doing these things ruffles someone’s feathers or gets you in trouble with your guild.” Most of these rules exist to prevent RP dissonance, because causing too much of it may make people hesitant to RP with you. Different RP for Different Groups A very important thing keep in mind is to be aware of the group you find yourself RPing in; this could be a guild, a server community, a massive cross-realm WoW group or just a handful of friends. What your RP looks like in the context of these different spaces can be wildly disparate. The power-level of characters can swing pretty heavily from group to group, how fast and loose with the lore you are, character interactions with major lore figures, etc. Generally speaking, the more people in the group you’re RPing with, the more restrictive and close to the etiquette rules listed here you’re going to be expected to play. When you’re just writing a RP with one friend that isn’t considered canon in a larger RP sphere, anything you agree on goes; but if you’re in a guild with a bunch of people whose stories and characters are affected by your RP they’re going to frown pretty heavily on you bringing in that much RP dissonance. If you’re ever not sure what your groups feelings on something are, just ask OOC first! Interacting Directly with Major Lore Objects/Characters and Why You Shouldn’t Most of the time, interacting with major lore characters/objects/events in the game in a large and personal way is discouraged. This is to avoid the RP dissonance of say, you walking up to me in an RP and telling me how you slew Gul’dan with your own two hands and I’m like “but I slew Gul’dan with my own two hands!” Obviously, that would be a pretty big problem to try and RP around (we can’t both have strangled Gul’dan to death without having at least met doing it). It would usually be considered acceptable to say that you were part of a large team that assisted in the efforts to defeat him--but the actual kill is generally attributed to some nameless generic hero possessed by no PC. This goes for slaying major lore characters, dating major lore characters, possessing important one of a kind artifacts, even in some circles interacting with major lore characters in any way. Obviously this means that what you play through the game is not a direct translation of what your character does. When you play through the quests in game, you’re treated as the one true hero of azeroth--but in an RP setting, you need more room for the other players to be just as important as you are. Additionally, often just saying your character is in direct contact with a major lore character can cause RP dissonance. If I walk into an RP and say “King Anduin directly ordered me to burn down this Horde orphanage and kill a bunch of orphans because he just hates orphans so much” I’m sort of putting a bunch of lore and words in Anduin’s mouth that I have no right to. Most people would probably be furious at the idea that I’m establishing a canon where Anduin hates orphans and wants them dead. Anduin hating orphans is an extreme example, but any time you as a player are putting words into a game character’s mouth, it’s likely that you’ll encounter resistance. This is avoided by just never having PCs interact directly with any sort of major lore characters. Again, how acceptable this is and what is acceptable varies by your RP group, but usually minor NPCs in the WoW are considered fair game (having heard something from a barkeep in a small town, for example). A word of caution however: Blizzard may decide to do things you don’t expect with the NPCs you tie your characters to, and dealing with that can be difficult and radically change your character. Take it from someone who made their character from the Cliffwalker tribe before playing through the Cataclysm Stonetalon storyline: your entire family may wind up dead. Lore Nobody expects you to know everything, especially right away, but you should try to stay as within the lore of the game as much as you can. Lore is primarily important because it sort of greases the wheels of RP. If you and the person you’re RPing with aren’t operating with the same rules of how the world works in mind, it’s going to cause RP dissonance. Most people won’t mind if you don’t know things, but what’s important is that you try and that you’re open to people politely correcting you. I’m never going to be upset with someone who doesn’t know everything (goodness knows I don’t, despite how many years I’ve been playing) but I will be hesitant to RP with someone who gets angry or upset when they’re told the lore is different from what they thought, or can’t at least have rational discussion about it. Powerlevel Powerlevel is definitely something you should try and be very aware of from group to group. Every established RP group is likely also going to have a sort of understood powerlevel, sometimes your characters are expected to only be as powerful as the local city guard, other times they’re powerful saviors of the universe, and getting to know which one you are in is very important. As much fun as it might seem, generally being more powerful than all the PCs you’re interacting with (powergaming) is going to turn people off from RPing with you. As an example, in my guild we have a decently high power-level, where together a number of the PCs took down a corrupted wild god at one point. But, a smaller facet of the guild was a tribe of Tauren I was a part of--and for a bit we avoided bringing any of our more powerful magical friends to our village because we wanted to explore some stories at a lower power-level. It’s hard to play out the struggles of getting fresh water to irrigate crops if a shaman or a mage can just snap their fingers and fix the problems, rendering the story over. In the same vein, choosing what race your character is can be dependant on powerlevel. All playable races are of course, fair game. But, if you want to play something that isn’t a playable race, you’re generally going to need to make sure they’re on the same powerlevel as the playable races. If someone walks up in RP as a Taunka very few people will balk at that, and even very few would have a problem with something a little more off-brand like an Arrakoa or a Jinyu. The problem generally arises when someone is playing a race that’s implied to be much more powerful than the others. For example, if you’re a Naaru in disguise, people might not be keen on RPing with you. One of the most common examples of this is people playing dragons: some communities take huge issue with people playing dragons but others are ok with it--if you are thinking about playing one make sure you ask around your RP community first to see how they view these things. Godmodding As defined in the glossary, godmodding is the act of controlling a character that belongs to another player and is heavily frowned on. The easiest to understand and most common place this comes up is in combat situations. For example, if my character is Arahe and the person I’m RPing with has a character named Gahnder, it would be godmodding if I wrote a post that was “Arahe cuts off Gahnder’s arm with her glaive,” instead, I would want to write a post that only involves my own character’s actions and reactions. “Arahe swings her glaive at Gahnder’s arm” would be the proper way to phrase the post, because Gahnder can decide how much damage, if any, his arm receives. MetaGaming Another thing I want to cover is meta-gaming, which is keeping IC and OOC knowledge separate. I already went into OOC vs IC a bit earlier, but I want to run through it in the context of meta-gaming. It’s important to limit your character’s knowledge to just what they would actually know, even if you as a player know more than them. For example, you as a player might know that your sneaky rogue friend is creeping up behind your character unseen, but your character might not be aware and get surprised! Or, you might know from an OOC perspective that another character is alive after an attack, but your character is still in the dark. This is most frustrating when used directly against another PC; it can make it hard to react to things, but also break down trust between players and cause hesitance in revealing ‘too much’ of things that should be discussed ahead of time because the meta-gamer might ruin them. It is also generally frowned upon when it comes to lore from the game. If in a cutscene/book/etc Genn Greymane whispers in Anduin’s ear some sort of secret and nobody else is around to hear it, your character probably doesn’t know that secret and it would be strange to go around telling other people about it--or worse, expecting them to know about it. Post Etiquette and Turn Order When RPing, always try to communicate one post at a time that contains a full action/piece of dialong without constantly adding additional lines and wait for the person/people you’re RPing with to respond before adding more. This is especially important ingame or in places where you can’t see if the other person is typing. If you’re writing a longer post and you don’t have an addon which allows you to type it out at once, include an ellipsis at the end (...) to let the other person know that you’re not done with your post yet. It can be extremely difficult to respond to someone who is constantly adding more to their post in seperate lines because you might start typing out a response and then have to change it with each following line, or you might not know when they’re finished and you should post. Always try to let everyone else respond to each piece of information before continuing, unless they’ve said it’s ok to skip them OOC. For example: Don’t: Player A: “Hello!” Player A: “How are you?” Player A: “I just got back from the front.” Player A: Character A reaches out to pat Character B’s pet on the head. Player A: “Our mutual friend got injured in last week’s attack.” Player B: “Hello. I’m well, how are you? Are they ok?” In this instance, Player B probably has to rewrite their post several times to react to each new input, taking them even longer to post and likely getting frustrated in the process, and may just sit and wait after the last line, wondering if Player A is ready for a response yet. Do: Player A: “Hello! How are you?” Player B: “Hello. I’m well, how are you?” Player A: “I just got back from the front.” Character A reaches out to pat Character B’s pet on the head. “Our mutual friend got injured in last week’s attack. I went to go visit them and spoke with them at some length. We discussed…” Player A: “some plans that I think would interest you.” Player B: Character B’s pet makes a happy noise at the head pats. “Oh? Are they alright? What sort of plans?” Here, Player A gives Player B a chance to respond to more reasonable chunks of information and the flow of conversation feels a bit better. It might even stand to be a little more broken up. Player A is also keeping it clear where the posts end, so Player B knows when to respond. Entering a Scene in Progress If you see a pair of people already engaged in an RP, it's totally possible to join in! If it's ingame in a public space like a tavern or at an RP event, usually you're good to just walk up and join them. The same is true for forum or discord RP which has been denoted as "open rp." The rest of the time, however, it's polite to whisper or ask in an OOC chat if it's ok to join the scene. It can throw people off if they're engaged in a serious story-line conversation if you just jump right in, but most of the time people will be open and happy to include you if you ask! Basic Ingame Manners Generally, when you're RPing ingame, you'll want to toggle on walk instead of run (the default keybind is / on the numpad). Often people will identify that you're IC and entering a scene when you're walking. If you don't have a RP Profile Addon, this is an easy way for people to know that you're an RPer! Avoid excessive use of moves/running around in circles/toys just because you're bored between posts. If your character is jumping up and down on the table IC that's fine, but keep in mind that your character's movements and actions while in an RP scene are considered IC and people will react to that, and may find too much activity annoying or distracting in both an OOC and IC sense. To Quickly Summarize RP Etiquette: You only control your character, never control or directly affect someone else’s PC without their explicit OOC permission. Your character does not experience everything you play through in the game, and you should avoid direct contact with important lore figures and objects. Try to keep lore in mind and be open to discussions about lore and how it pertains to your characters. Keep your character’s power level roughly on par with whoever you’re RPing with. OOC knowledge should be kept separate from your character’s IC knowledge. Construct your posts in a way that makes them clear and easy for your RP partner to respond to. And again, all of these guidelines are just that, they are not necessarily a direct reflection on my own personal RP views, and they are subject to change a bit from RP community to RP community. They are just to let you know what may be frowned upon in whatever community you may find yourself in. Make sure you keep clear and open OOC communication with your community to find out what’s acceptable! Combat In RP, combat can be handled in a few different ways. The most common are dice rolls, duels and RP combat. Dice Combat: Usually used if you don’t really know/trust your opponent and you want to guarantee a fair fight. Usually it’s as simple as both players rolling a die and whoever rolls higher succeeds. This can either be a single roll that determines the winner of the fight, or multiple rolls that determine each move and how successful they are. Sometimes people will just roll a die on their own and sort of arbitrarily determine how successful they are at moves/attacks/avoidances/etc by how high or low they roll. Duel Combat: this combat is simply fighting someone PvP ingame in a duel to determine who canonically wins a fight ICly RP Combat: Here, you just write out your moves/reactions to your opponents moves at eachother, my earlier example of godmodding is an example of a possible RP combat post. If you do this form of combat, it's polite to at least take minor hits sometimes. It can be very boring if two characters are just dodging every single move the other throws out, and frustrating if players are taking down a difficult NPC monster a GM is running without taking any hits. The GM won’t godmod you into being injured, but they might be less inclined to run things for you if you breeze through their final boss without a scratch. WoW ADDONS Most addons for WoW can be downloaded and managed very easily through the twitch app (what was once the curse app). Generally just search the names in the twitch app to find them. I will try to update these as needed. If you have suggestions for other RP addons, please leave a comment and I’ll add them. I highly recommend picking up at least one of the profile addons, just because it makes it immediately apparent to others that you’re also an RPer. Total Roleplay 3 (By EllypseCelweBelore) - A profile RP addon (will not work with XRP or MyRoleplay also installed, but will communicate with them so you’ll see profiles from them as well. Basically you have to pick one of the three of these.) that lets you make custom profiles for your characters/pets/mounts/etc, find other RPers on the map, spot other RPers at a glance, and make chat customizations. You can also change your character’s name and give yourself a last name. The extended version also includes the ability to make documents, quests and a whole bunch of other complicated and fun stuff. It’s worth noting that all RP profile addons can be reported to and moderated by blizzard, so don’t put anything in them that would get you in trouble if you said it in /say! MyRoleplay (by Etarna, KatorieHooves, TheGildedFox and EllypseCelweBelore) - A profile RP addon (will not work with XRP or TRP also installed, but will communicate with them so you’ll see profiles from them as well. Basically you have to pick one of the three of these.) that lets you make custom profiles for your characters, spot other RPers at a glance, change your character’s name and give yourself a last name and give people other information. It’s a bit more lightweight and easy to use than the other ones. It’s worth noting that all RP profile addons can be reported to and moderated by blizzard, so don’t put anything in them that would get you in trouble if you said it in /say! XRP (by BorBlasthammer) - A profile RP addon (will not work with MyRoleplay or TRP also installed, but will communicate with them so you’ll see profiles from them as well. Basically you have to pick one of the three of these.) that lets you make custom profiles for your characters, spot other RPers at a glance, change your character’s name and give yourself a last name and give people other information. Supports more cross-faction and cross-server functionality than the others (and is a little more experimental in that sense). It’s worth noting that all RP profile addons can be reported to and moderated by blizzard, so don’t put anything in them that would get you in trouble if you said it in /say! Elephant (by pb_ee1) - A super handy little addon that’s useful in many situations, but is particularly good for RPers. Simply logs the chat so that you can go back and read/copy/keep it for later. Can be filtered by chat. After you finish a scene you can easily go back into this addon and keep it for later, or look back to reference something that happened earlier in a scene that wouldn’t still be tracked by WoW’s normal chatlog UnlimitedChatMessage (by Cyprias) - If you find yourself hitting the 255 character limit in WoW’s chatbox often and are annoyed by putting ellipsis on the ends of your posts to continue typing, I highly recommend this little addon. All it does is let you type endlessly and then breaks it up into the acceptable 255 blocks for you and posts them all at once when you hit enter. HandyNotes (by Xinhuan) - probably less vital than the other addons, this is still one of my favorite addons. Lets you mark custom locations on the map. I use it constantly when I find neat little RP spots that I want to come back to so I can find them again. TinyPad (by Gello) - a helpful little addon that gives you an ingame notepad to make notes for yourself on ADDITIONAL RESOURCES Discord - is a free voice and text chat for gamers, a great deal of RPers use it pretty extensively. Below, I’ll list a few servers for RPers on Discord, please let me know if you know of more to add! TNRH Community Hub - The discord server for the TNRH RP Community Roleplayers Connect - A cross realm RP community Nobbel - Warcraft Lore server - discord for hardcore lore discussions Lore of Warcraft - WoW - another lore discussion discord for WoW Blood and Iron - Orc RP/Lore centric discord The Shal'dorei - Nightborne RP/Lore centric discord Silvermoon City - Bloodelf RP/Lore centric discord The Goblin Coliseum - Goblin RP/Lore centric discord The Bluffs - Tauren RP/Lore centric discord The Ebon Hold - Deathknight RP/Lore centric discord Official TNRH RP Ingame communities: Horde: https://www.worldofwarcraft.com/invite/D2lm9DnuOwz?region=US&faction=Horde Alliance: https://www.worldofwarcraft.com/invite/owrxLOVseKr?region=US&amp;faction=Alliance Other: https://rpfind.me/ - an RP website with some great features for finding friends and connections If you have any questions/need additional help please feel free to contact me (add me to your friends list/shoot me a mail or whisper), Arahe-Ravenholdt. My discord is Arahe#6448, feel free to add me! Or just add a comment on this post.
  39. 1 point
    ((The storyline is still wrapping up a few loose threads in Discord, but here's a post about The Grim losing their long-time guildhall in Brill as a result of it.)) By now, everyone has surely heard about the Battle of Lordaeron. The Alliance forces overtook the place, swarming through the ruins like rats scurrying through a tomb. The Warchief had no choice but to call for her Horde forces to retreat. When Baine sounded the retreat, the Commander of The Grim gave the order for his members to fall back to the Grim’s halls in Brill to defend their base there. They broke off from the rest of the Horde and headed for where the Gallow’s End Tavern once stood. The town was already in ruin, and the secret entrance to the Grim’s headquarters was exposed. After the Mandate’s followers were inside, the door was sealed with magic and stone. Some Alliance, namely the Twilight Empire, saw The Grim breaking off the main group of Horde and pursued. It did not take them long to break through the barriers at the entrance of the guildhall, and soon members bearing the colors of Twilight Empire clashed with those of The Grim just inside the entrance. Meanwhile, other Grim were deeper in the catacombs, retrieving documents and artifacts and other important items. Eventually, knowing they were outnumbered with all the Alliance outside, Awatu, the Grim Commander, gave the order for the Grim to abandon their guildhall of many years and find their way to safety. Most of the Grim exited the halls through portals, summons, and back exits. A few remained to stall the Alliance intruders for a few more precious moments, sacrificing themselves so the others could get out. Grim who spoke about the whole incident had varying emotions. Some were angry, some were indifferent. “It was… not unexpected, considering the result of the Ashenvale offensive,” Commander Awatu Stonespire of The Grim said. “While effective, the Warchief continues to make… questionable tactical decisions. As for the loss of the Halls, they are simply rooms and corridors. We can rebuild and rejoin the war effort. We lost a battle, but a war still needs to be fought.” Commander Stonespire has since called for the search of a suitable location for a new Grim guildhall. High Inquisitor Qabian Grimfire had a bit more than that to say on the subject. “Our guild hall was a stuffy, gloomy place that wasn’t worth spending any more time in than absolutely necessary, but it was useful enough with its history and its use as a gathering point that it was frequently absolutely necessary. Gathering points are easy enough to replace, but the history we built is gone. “Perhaps on some level it was inevitable that Stormwind would try to reclaim Lordaeron from the people who paid the price of their very lives to remain in their own homeland,” Qabian continued. “Humans have always been idiotic on the basest of levels, prone to taking things that don’t belong to them. However, I for one am convinced that they never would have had the courage to march through Tirisfal and ruin the lives we’d built if it weren’t for the things I’m hearing about the reappearance of a Menethil. “The individuals who chased us through and ransacked the place we had made ours, on the other hand,” Qabian went on some more, “I believe did so for deeply personal reasons, because they took offense to the various effects the Mandate had on their lives. That also has an edge of inevitability. The Mandate is not in the business of diplomacy or goodwill. We will always make the kind of enemies who would gladly end our lives with their own hands, and if they are given the opportunity to exploit any weaknesses we may suffer, as the Battle for Undercity provided them, they will never hesitate to strike. Never doubt that for a moment. Therein lies the importance of seeing the Mandate through to its ultimate goal. Should we fail, our survival, as individuals, as a collective, as nations, as the Horde itself, all of it is on the line.” Aureilya Raindawn, Keeper of Grim scrolls and documents, scowled when asked about it. “It matters not,” she said. “Let them have the blight infested land, it’s worthless to them anyway. It doesn’t matter to the Mandate what location we hold. The loss of the guildhall changes nothing. Our numbers continue to grow, even now. Let their blood soak the earth of whatever new location we procure.” A flash of rage passed through Gavril Nikolaev’s eyes when asked about it, but the Grim warlock quickly regained his composure. “We lost the guild hall. We lost the Undercity. I pray we recovered enough from our archives and vaults that the loss cuts none too deep. Sentimentality favors us not, but the fact of the matter is that we are at a severe tactical disadvantage. “We Forsaken are not well-loved by the other members of the Horde,” Gavril continued. “The loss of the Undercity is not something about which most orcs, trolls, Tauren or elves will think twice. The burning of Teldrassil, however … Will either galvanize the Alliance, or burn away at their faith … We need a new guild hall, or our enemies will chip away at us and eventually destroy us. We are nomads. Homeless. Exposed to the elements. This must needs be rectified before anything else.” “The battle was a mess,” commented Umbra Longheart, warrior of The Grim. “The Alliance caught us with our pants down, nobody suspected they would stoop to our level when they flattened Brill. It’s not the first battle I’ve been on the losing side of, though some could have saved themselves some grief by following Awatu’s orders clearly. In the heat of battle, a clear chain of command needs to be adhered to, even a bad plan can succeed with everyone working in lock step.” Umbra went on to add, “I never spent much time there as i never felt entirely… safe… I’ve done a bit of leg work finding some nice out of the way, forgotten by time locations throughout Lordaeron that would be suitable for modification, I’ve already handed the list off to Qabian though I’m sure he’s forgotten about it if he even had time to read it while beating the war drum.” Aquizit Shadesoul, Seeker of The Grim, did not seem too concerned when asked about the loss of the guildhall. “It’s a shame, solely for the fact of needing to find somewhere else to store and house the things and people who need it. I think, as a whole, it is insignificant. This organization does not suffer those who can’t take care of themselves, and the Mandate is enduring beyond paper, parchment, or records. It’s good to have a hall, for presence’s sake alone, to tell the world we exist, and that we endure. But for one individual hall? It’s just a symbol, not the heart.” Aderlee said “I tink de Grim fought well. We ‘ad very liddle casualties and we kept de Alliance away for a good while. De wards were strong but not strong enough. Dat was a weakness I ‘ad found last year at Khorvis’ request, but I don’t know if anyting was done ta make dem stronger. Da guild hall itself was fine, but it’s a loss dat we can replace. Losing Brill and Lordaeron exposed dat it was not in a strong position. We can do better. We got de important bits and artifacts and Grims out. Dat’s more important den stone and dirt.” Lord Pincus Dorian, longtime warlock of The Grim, gave only three words in comment: “Unfortunate, but necessary.” ====================================================================== Grim and TE.jpg (77.91 KiB) Viewed 2 times OOC~ Before the storyline kicked off, The Grim and Twilight Empire met to have some fun PVP skirmishes outside of Brill. This was The Grim’s last event on Twisting Nether/Ravenholdt servers. Thank you, Twilight Empire, for being a part of it!
  40. 1 point
    In the light of the rising sun, the throne of the Zandalari empire shined like a mountain of gold. A heavenly outline traced the great terraces and tiers of the upper city, culminating in the massive halo at the top that glared down disapprovingly at the chugging, half-dead ship. Bringing the goblin ship to Dazar'alor was akin to dropping a dead rat on a palace's rug. As far out as he was, Tahzani could still make out the plethora of ships that clearly fit outside of the Zandalari's aesthetic. Great wheeled abominations of the Cartels, dreary destroyers of the Dark Lady, iron hulled battleships of Orcish designs, and many which he did not immediately recognize. As usual, he was late to the party and cursed himself for falling behind the rush. The weary crew of the company's ship set to docking and preparing the hold for the influx of new goods while he set to work inspecting just what goods they could acquire. Unsurprisingly, as soon as one of the world's most prominent ports opened its gates, everyone sprang out of the woodwork to sell. The Ramkahen, the Vrykul, and even the Hozen had set up their stands and brought crates and barrels filled with their wares. Each of them would have to be sampled first, then they would haggle until a deal could be made. All of his training failed to prepare him for the sheer variety of alcohol that suddenly existed. Taste, swish, analyze, spit, rinse, and then repeat. If he swallowed even a small amount of any there would be no telling how many types of liquor would be swirling in his gut by the end of the day. Every vendor had a new drink for him to try and by the time he was halfway through the bazaar his throat was already dry from talking and his gums nearly bleeding from the harsh liquors he had scoured them with. It was barely even the afternoon and ten new kinds of drinks had been approved for his ship. By late afternoon, that count had risen to twenty-five. By early evening, it jumped to thirty-five. By the time the sun had set the cargo hold in his ship had been cleared for nearly forty new kinds of liquor ranging in size from bottles to jars to kegs and even full sized oil drums. His calm, pleasant tone had devolved to a cracking rasp from hours upon hours of negotiation. It was what he would blame when he suddenly found himself at a loss for words, not the fear of the knife waggling under his nose. When the vendor's eyes had widened he had been slow to react, not putting the seemingly friendly greeting behind him and the merchant's obvious fear together fast enough. When he turned to regard the new voice he found himself staring down several inches of steel towards the broad grin of a troll with hide that was the same color as his. A wide jaw, burly build, and yellow hair marked him as a Vilebranch troll. The thief's own surprise was quickly masked as he took in the sight of the stunned Revantusk and for a moment the two mortal enemies only had eyes for one another, allowing the merchant to quickly hide. " Well now li'l mon. Jah Dahkspeah mastah let jah off de leash ta go play wit de othah li'l people?" " What de hell jah be doin' heah spidah hump-" Tahzani's retort was halted as the sharpened point of the blade pricked the tip of his nose. " Eeeeaaaaasy dere cousin. No need fah name callin' now! Ah be heah fah business. Fah jah protection!" " Mah protection?" Tahzani asked incredulously. A though tugged at him that turned the incredulous look into something more amused, the trolls were borrowing goblin tactics. " Das righ'! Dis place be dangerous...Nevah know who jah gonna run into. Jah pay me? Ah protect jah. Notin' bad gon' happen undah mah watch." " An' if ah don'?" Tahzani asked slowly. The Vilebranch chuckled darkly, baring teeth that had been filed down to points and stained. " World be a cruel place, Li'l Revantusk." Out of the corner of his eye, Tahzani spotted a flash of gold. A guard was striding towards the two, lead by the panicking merchant. The Vilebranch's face twisted into a sour expression as he quickly stowed his blade away. " Tink about it." He called before lumbering away into the crowd. When the man had left him, Tahzani released a quivering breath and stared out at the market. Suddenly the heads of hair seemed far more distinct, he no longer saw plain colors but the markings of tribes from all over the world. Every lesser tribe had their eyes on the city, and every one of them hated the Horde. "Halfway across de world an' i'm still dealin' wit mah asshole neighbahs." He sighed.
  41. 1 point
    08.03.18 People are liars, or maybe they’re just fools. They claim to understand what The Grim is, what we do, and what our purpose is. Then, when they witness it in action, they are shocked and disappointed. It is clear to me now why members of The Grim have so few outside friendships. Outsiders sometimes say they want to be friends with us. They say they understand us, and still want to be friends. But they don’t. Not really. They want to be friends with who they want us to be, not with who we really are. They want us to change, to fit into their idea of right and wrong, good and bad. They offer, in their kindness, their support and help if we choose to “improve” ourselves into what they think we should be. To fel with that. I am Grim. I will not change. If people get upset because they see me attack humans, that is their problem. They obviously do not know what it is to be Grim, even though they claim to understand. I make no apology for my actions. I have no regrets. And I will not change. Peace through annihilation. By any means necessary.
  42. 1 point
    On the first day, there is nothing. Nothing too far out of the ordinary for a dying forest, at least. Silverpine is the same rotting land in ruins it has been for far too many years, and the undead are of absolutely no help to it. The trees are either dying or getting chopped to the ground, as the Forsaken seem it proper to adopt foul orcish custom these days. Abominations still roam the land and belch their putrid gases into the air to mingle with the poisonous fumes wafting from the work of the camp apothecaries, which in turn mixes with the smoke rising from destroyed weapons of failed sieges against straggling insurgents trying to take back their land. Burning trash heaps that were once plague catapults, so trash heaps they remain. There is nothing of interest here. Everything is just as expected and that would be much more reassuring were it not for major military movement a continent away. Moving along unseen is simple enough when no one is looking for a lone red-headed human skulking through the shadows of towering trees at a slow and steady foot-pace, and when the air is already tainted with death, chemicals, and soot. Bronwen blends in with the night well enough, being clad in dark leather, heavy hood to shadow her face and a long dark cloak draped across her shoulders and falling down her back. It all doesn't do so much against the greenery clinging futilely to its hold on the land, but standing in a shadow or crouched upon a low bough of a tree shields her from even eyes that may have been looking for her, or someone like her. If they are waiting, they'll have to keep waiting. She has plenty of time to watch, herself, for now. Late on the second day, a patrol of three guards trudge shoulder to shoulder along the road down the middle of the forest, weapons and shields sheathed and at rest. They speak to each other in something that sounds to be very clearly Common, one might think at first sound, but some alien form of it that damaged throats produce. Sickly, gravely, breathless. They hardly sound like real words when produced airlessly, and all three have (or had) the same malady, it seems. If one discounts the condition of undeath, that is. They're bored, and that much can be told by the way they scan the trees with uninterested gazes. Nothing is out of order. Move along the route, don't waste time, she assumes of their methods. Nothing is out of order until they come upon a mound of dirt kicked up on the side of the road near one of the barricades set up on the sides. The work of a plagued wolf at best, or moon-crazed beast at worst. An annoying thing to happen across, but one easily remedied to keep wagons and carriages from being slowed. Claw marks that plunged into the dirt where the soil was scooped up and piled haphazardly onto the broken cobblestone by paws searched for something that may or may not have been found. Probably nothing was found, judging by the way the hole is left unfinished, if such a thing could ever be considered finished. The last of the scrapes drag off into the forest itself, leading towards the southeast. The deathguard in front, the one wearing the heaviest plate and what seemed to be many replacement parts, spouts what could have been a curse at the mess. It follows a noise that sounds as if it could have been the echo of a sigh: a shuddering motion made out of deeply ingrained habit rather than an actual breath. It makes Bronwen's face crinkle, the ghastliness of it, even as she shifts silently from her perch she made just far enough that she can still hear it. The guard swings a foot at the pile to kick it off of the stone of the road, which produces an explosion that is just big enough to send his sword arm flying into one direction and his helmet into another. Bronwen can't tell if it contains his head or not, but she doesn't care to wait and see. With the scrambling of his two fellows, she turns and prowls off through the shadows north into the direction of Tirisfal.
  43. 1 point
    This… isn’t supposed to happen. It was hard for Svetlaena Ascent to even think for a moment before more coughing racked her body and sent shockwaves through her mind. The Sin’dorei lurched forward and caught herself on her hands and knees amongst sands rapidly being blanketed in ash. Her head was pounding, her eyes stinging and tearing over. Despite the efforts of her lungs to cleanse themselves, all she managed to do was hack some gray slime onto the beach. Not like this. Nearby, the priestess’s hippogryph Ipolit collapsed, breathing but utterly spent, twitching his singed wings every now and then. She watched him for a time to assure herself. Once confirmed, she set about trying to rise to her feet. Easier considered than done. Svetlaena’s head was spinning far too much. It wasn’t just the pain and suffocation, either. She settled for simply kneeling there, falling ash sticking in her frayed hair, and staring back at the horrible beacon of war that the Horde had lit. Not like this… Within this burning ruin of the world tree a dark splotch of smoke amassed into the form of a storm crow as it propelled towards the Sin’dorei woman like a meteor, falling mere feet from her where she knelt. Sand, ash and cinder alike spilled in the area around them as the scent of smoke threatened to overwhelm her once more. As the disturbed debris once more began to settle, a silhouette of a druid stood where the crow had fallen. Standing about a head shorter than the average Kal’dorei female, the figure stood ready for martial combat; one hand held a shard of something, the other balled in a fist illuminated with a blue light. A familiar, wrathful tone of gravel greeted her after a hacking cough. “...I should have guessed... I should have known. Of all people to be spearheading this… atrocity…” ‘Atrocity’ was right. She wanted to tell Vaedoras that, but of all the people on Azeroth, he was probably the least likely to believe her. He had seen her blazing hatred for his people first-hand; an inner fire born of past betrayals and lingering resentment, he himself had been burned by it more than once. She wanted to say that she would have at least taken prisoners. She wanted to tell the druid how she’d tried to save as many as she could until the heat burnt the very air out of her lungs and forced her back for good. She wanted to say so very much, but all Svetlaena managed was more painful coughing fits, shaking her head and hoping the despair in her face and the burns on her skin said enough. “Five years.” The druid growled, gripping on the shard that pulsed with brilliant shades of red as if feeding its owner’s rage. It cut into his skin, blood dropping into the ash-ridden sand. “For five years, I’ve known you a Monster. But She begged me to spare you. She said you could be saved.” Vaedoras began the first step of his march. “And I did, for Her. But what has it cost us? I should have done this a long time ago…” “No. Syl...Sylvanas…” Svetlaena stammered out, trying to explain despite her scorched throat, beginning to realize just how vulnerable she was and just how enraged Vaedoras was. If only She were here. An attempt was made to stand. It failed. She fell back into a sit, reduced to trying to scramble backwards. The head-shaking became more frantic. “I didn’t… I-I wouldn’t… she’s…” And the strain was too much, the small priestess breaking into more coughing spasms, only broken up by the occasional ‘no’. “You wouldn’t?” The rough, incredulous voice raised in indignation at the perceived lie. “I wouldn’t!” Svetlaena spat back, finally with some conviction behind her voice, sounding nearly as rough as the druid in her current state. He would normally have found this absurd, perhaps even laughed at her, but any sense of humor seemed burned with the tree and those within. He continued his grim march towards justice. “You’ve always been an opportunist, I assume those burns are from trying to steal more victims for your wretched sins. Too long have I stood idle, too many have suffered at your hands because of it. I have neglected my burdens from Elune for too long, may I remain forever damned for it.” At this rate, he’d be upon her in moments and she had precious little strength left. The backwards flailing ceased. She raised a hand, realizing he was closing the gap far too fast and trying in vain to halt him. “I know what I’ve done,” her voice cracked, “I know what I am.” Eyes that burned struggled to focus on his to convey her honesty. “It isn’t this!” “Is that so?” Short as he may be in comparison of his own people, he still towered over the priestess. Behind him his trail was marked by his own blood, that which stained the crystalline shard that he pointed at her. “This is your last chance to confess, Svetlaena Ascent. May Elune hear you and judge you accordingly.” Cornered, guilt-ridden and at the peak of frustration, she slammed her fist into the sand beside her, “She won’t hear me. Nor will she hear you, nor did she hear them--” she gestured to the tree. “I saved as many as I could. She did nothing.” “Then I will serve in her place.” His natural fangs remained bared, the shard still poised to strike as a makeshift blade to deliver some supposed divine justice. “You expect me to believe you actually sought to save my people? After all your past crimes?” Svetlaena’s defiance seemed to lose its fire; she lowered her head, and slowly shook it to answer him in the negative. “Of course not. Not after all we’ve been through together.” Her tone suggested that she was almost amused by the question. Almost. It fell just short, too deflated and defeated to really embrace the irony as she typically did. “All I could think of was when my own city fell.” She just stared at the ground now, watching the ash accumulate. At least this way she could avoid the terror of that final moment if, or when, it came… and rob him of the satisfaction of seeing it in her eyes. “A fate that you’ve now brought upon us.” The Druid’s fist surrendered its illumination, only to grab the woman’s chin and force her to look back up at him. “You and your abomination of a leader. She was one of yours in life, was she not?” Svetlaena raised one of her weary, singed hands to grab at his wrist, but little else. She simply hadn’t the strength to pry him away or even tear out of his grasp. “She is no kindred of mine. Merely a shadow of it.” There seemed to be some hesitation to these words, but once they were said, it was replaced by the tiniest shred of relief. “And yet you still march to her commands.” Vaedoras hissed as he kneeled, getting closer to her face. “You’ve made this mistake before, with the brown orc. He destroyed a city, like your ‘Shadow’. He renewed conflicts that benefited none but his own ego-- as this one does, this wicked Windrunner and her designs. How do I know you truly regret it this time? What will you do to prove you have learned from your past, Svetlaena? Why should I believe that you can still meet salvation? Tell me, why are you worth sparing again?” His increased proximity seemed to be fanning the faded inner flame of defiance, for she ceased to avoid his gaze once more, “What makes you think you have this right? We once agreed that we two are monsters, didn’t we?” Narrowing her stinging eyes, she continued, “This is beyond us both. You’ve no right to be talking like a paladin… nor do I have any defense for myself.” “Because, I have the only thing Monsters like us seem to respect.” The Druid waved the now crimson shard where her gaze lingered before applying pressure on her entire jaw. “Might. You are right that we are both monsters forged in elven flesh-- cast from Elune’s graces for our sins. If she has truly turned a blind eye on us all this eve, then it is my time to do my proper duty as an apex predator and feed upon those like us. For the rest of my nights, I will seek out and hunt those who will prey upon the weak and innocent, as is my destiny-- endowed upon me at the hour of my birth when I claimed my first victim.” His voice was deathly calm, seething as the shard began its approach. His amber eyes never leaving his prey as he made her position painfully clear. “And yet, in my neglect of these burdens, I have caused far more suffering than if I had my fill. I see this now, Svetlaena… tonight's the night I accept my dark purpose as one of Elune’s Damned. Tonight I, Vaedoras Starshade, realize my true nature as an Apex Predator. And so I ask one final time, why should your final judgement not mark the start of this new era? Are you certain you have nothing more to say in repentance?” The entire speech was so long-winded and bizarre that it assisted the priestess’s disorientation; it all eventually becoming a blur of his anger and a strange awareness of the silence that now hung in the air, outside of the sphere of Vaedoras’s crazed declarations. Previously one could hear the echoes across the water, cries of the doomed and dying… now there was nothing. The flames on Teldrassil didn’t roar quite as high now. The fire was finally running out of life to consume. All this talk of predator and prey. She’d said similar things to Vaedoras, once, at a time when he had been at her mercy rather than the other way around. But this was amplified. Demented, even. Or, perhaps, she had always sounded just as mad as he. Svetlaena wasn’t sure anymore. “Do what you feel you have to,” she spoke with some strain from his grip on her, “if someone had tried to talk sense into me after Silvermoon fell, I wouldn’t listen either. I don’t blame you.” A deep breath. “But as someone who knows what I am, and what I am capable of, all I ask is that you answer me one question.” The shard lingered within her peripherals, his harsh gaze seemingly unblinking. “...I will grant you this request. Speak.” Her gaze is unwavering, despite the tightness in her throat. “Would I have allowed so many children to die that way?” There was a silence between them, the shard close to her neck, ready to bleed her out at any given moment-- assuming the searing heat that seemed to radiate from it didn’t cauterize her wound. “Fair enough.” The improvised weapon retreated. “Pray that you are telling the truth, and if not… that I never learn of your deception. You are granted one final chance from the Damned of Elune that stands before you. My mercy is spent, this is my final favor to Her and you both. Use it wisely, for my wrath will not be spared a second time if I hear you so much as touch another one of mine inappropriately.” He released the woman, pushing her back into the sand as he stood. “Have I made myself clear?” The wind knocked out of her, it took Svetlaena a moment to reply with a weak, “...yes.” Physically and emotionally spent, the Sin’dorei made no effort to move from where she lay, watching the ashes that continued to drift down from above. So many things she thought to say, but none of them would help at this point, and she knew it. With a sigh she settled on, simply, “It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” “And yet we bask in the fruits of the pale’s efforts.” Starshade scoffed as he turned his back on the woman that lay in ash and sand. He retreaded his dread march, as if it were the only path that remained for him. “Tell Windrunner and those who follow to enjoy her little empire of ashes, we will not forget this day. These flames will spread to all your Horde holds dear, and from this divine retribution, the Kaldorei will once again flourish. This is nature’s way.” When his foot finally touched where his march had begun, his form shifted back into the stormcrow, grasping that foreboding shard as he flew towards the east beyond the mountains to leave her to her thoughts.
  44. 1 point
    SIXTY DAYS later..... The House event is finally over. Some highlights from the show: A band of murloc pirates who took over the pirate ship playhouse in the back yard, followed by fish fillet sandwiches the next day. A kraken with frikkin' lasers. Peachicks Shower stabbing Women in bikinis Piranha pond Outcasts Interviews The audience Mind-wiping Fights and Romance The WHEEL OF MisFORTUNE! The coffin, truth serum, fish broth, lava floors, itching powder Spa Day Bun huggers for buns and hot dogs Lunk, Lonk, Lank, Ponk, Cronk, Wonk, and Bob WOMP WOMP Fireworks exploding the house after the final awards ceremony, mysteriously at the same time other fires started elsewhere in the house and throughout the grounds The challenges: What's In the Box guessing game won by Nokh and Bor'ghul Drunken Obstacle Course won by team of Nokh, Megeda, Bor'ghul, T'suro Talent Show won by Shaelie for individual and team of Nokh, Megeda, Bor'ghul, T'suro Pool Chicken Fights - several won points for this one Trivia Contest won by Myaka Riddles won by Ketani Foam Sword Balloon Popping won by Soren Cooking Contest won by Myaka The big winner of the trophy and 100,000 gold is...... Ketani Addison of Twilight Empire! The Bilgewater Cartel Entertainment Division would like to thank the other contestants as well: Draquesha and Soren Bearcharger Nokh Deadeye and Mythiis Myaka Winterborne Kirsune Aedious and Mardalius Anterius Niala Moonthorn Aruku Hitowa Hayleigh Davenport, Tynalie and Shaelie Brightwing Megeda Dustrunner Sanjay Aaren Anastasis Bor'ghul Flamespeaker T'suro Sunspear Murue Azurehammer Asteray Yu'una Syreena Shadowblade And now, we leave you with this final thought...... NUH! ((Thank you to everyone who participated! ❤️ ))
  45. 1 point
    There are not many things in the lore that would have my brain exploding this much; from the perspective of someone who knew the Grim best in 2007 and 2005, this is absolutely shocking and sad news. It'll take a few days to process, I think, but that's okay. I look forward to seeing your continued prosperity, even if it's not on Twisting Nether. [I poured a glass of wine for the first time in weeks to and for this.] Peace through [Cheers and] Annihilation, - Alekander
  46. 1 point
    It's going to be that one, he thought to himself, watching as the goblin nodded his head toward the empty pint of beer he'd been served only minutes before. Tahzani had an ongoing bet with himself over which one of his patrons would pass out first, and today he had a good pick of people to choose from. First, there was the goblin. He'd come in from Southshore, battered and bruised, likely from some scuffle over azerite or something else the Warchief ordered her troops to do. It was times like this he was glad for his job; far be it for him to break his nose a third time. Trolls healed quick, but that didn't mean they healed exactly the same. Tahzani's nose was like a jagged knife with not one but two ridges where the cartilage was broken. This alone made him stand out from the other trolls who patronized his establishment, and the Coldstar Cantina was growing more popular as the conflict in Southshore ramped up. "Hey barkeep," said a trollish woman in Zandali, her dark red hair and black facial tattoos outing her as a Ferraki. Sand snake, he thought to himself, approaching the female. "Watchoo wan'?" he asked politely in orcish, unwilling to bring the irritable glances of his many orcish patrons his way. They tended to get testy when he spoke in Zandali, and he wasn't going to start trouble over some sand troll. "Double whiskey, neat," she said, still in Zandali, flashing a jaw full of impossibly white teeth and large tusks. Of course she doesn't want ice, Tahzani thought to himself, pouring a glass with twice the usual amount of whiskey. Passing it to her, he took note of the gold rings on her fingers and the gold cuffs on each wrist. She didn't seem particularly rich, but it was an unusual choice. "He'a ya go," he said in a dry tone, as if he didn't have time for any Ferraki nonsense today. The sand troll took her drink and rolled a few coins toward Tahzani. "Thanks, handsome," she said with a grin. A twitch in his eyelid was all that answered her. When was the last time someone called him handsome without it being a joke? "I told you I wouldn't take any of your bullshit!" came another voice from nearby. Tahzani's attention was stolen by the new conflict; an orc was grabbing a tauren by the collar of his shirt, which was both hilarious and dangerous. Tauren could do massive structural damage if they were so inclined, and orcs didn't know when to back down. "Ey eye ey!" He shouted, waving a hand at both of them. "Take it outsahd! Ain' got no tahm fo' ya bustin' up mah tables an' chai's, mon!" The Ferraki laughed into her hand. "You think that's going to stop them?" She teased, drinking half of her glass. Sure enough, his commands went completely ignored. The tauren reached back and swung toward his assailant with a massive paw to the face, knocking the orc back a few feet and into the wall. A round of laughter went out around the room, and try as he might, Tahzani couldn't help but join them. It wasn't usual that a brawl wound up stopping with a single hit though, so he shook a fist at the orc. "Ey mon! Know when ta stay down!" But the orc didn't know when to quit. He was dressed in thick leathers and animal hide, the mark of a hunter, and sure enough a wolf suddenly appeared from outside only to leap at his tauren "friend" and sink his jaws into the larger warrior's thigh. "Get 'im, Ash'ar!" the orc shouted, hauling himself back to his feet, whipping out a rifle to aim at the tauren. The tauren seemed almost amused by the wolf, until its teeth dug in deep enough to find flesh. "An'she!" He shouted, smacking the canine away in the same way he did to his partner. Now it was time for Tahzani to intervene. "Ah to'd ya ta stop," he said firmly, putting away his own laughter with a shake of his head. The troll had a number of things he could do to stop them, but deescalating situations generally didn't happen when one introduced more violence. Luckily, there was a distraction. "Yoo hoo!" Came a familiar voice, and a familiar jiggle. Well that's an unexpected blessing, Tahzani thought to himself as a blood elf walked into his establishment carrying a guitar. Busty-the-elf to the rescue. She smiled with her painted lips and sat down primly on a bar stool, her low-cut robes exposing her breasts in a display an orc might find lewd. "Who wants to hear a song about how my night went?" She asked with a grin. The orc hunter put down his rifle. Elves were funny, and this one was particularly entertaining. Tahzani let out a heavy sigh. Saved by tits, he thought grumpily to himself, wondering vaguely about the difference between elf and troll breasts in terms of weight and softness. Well elves usually have little ones, but this one has pretty big ones.. can't be as soft as a troll's though, there's no fur, and besides, why would anyone want to bother with an elf, they probably talk through the whole thing and... It was when he was deep into this internal monologue when the music started, and the patrons went just a little quiet to listen to busty-the-elf's song. "Hey, give me another double, handsome," came the same Ferraki as before, smiling at Tahzani with a sinister grin. Rolling his eyes, he refilled her glass. "You can stop calling me that any time now." "Why would I want to do that?" She asked innocently, passing him the coins. Tahzani glared at her. "Because my face is busted to shit and you know it." "Doesn't seem so bad to me," the Ferraki said through a grin, the face paint around her eyes wrinkling mischievously. Is she actually flirting with me? The barkeep thought to himself. He tried to think of the last time someone actually had the nerve to flirt with him and was interrupted by a loud round of applause as busty-the-elf's first some came to an end. Glancing toward her, he saw the elf take a bow before turning back to the Ferraki, who mysteriously disappeared. "What the.." "My eye! My eye!!" Came a shout from one of the tables, a blood elf male leaning forward, clutching his left eye. Blood rolled down his face and hand as he shouted in a panic, and Tahzani groaned to himself. "We don' need anodda bar fight toni--" But his words were cut short, because it wasn't a bar fight that cost the elf his eye. Tahzani noticed a glimmer of air shifting before him, the unmistakable form of a night elf visible for a brief moment as she stabbed another patron, this time a goblin, in his eye as well. "Cripes! My friggin' eye!!" He shouted, and the bar erupted into chaos. "There's a rogue here!" "Takin' out eyes!" "Someone find 'em before they get anyone el--, ahh!! My eye!!" "An eye for an eye, Horde!" Shouted the elf in her own language as she faded from sight only to stab at as many patrons as she could find. Tahzani groaned. Of all the bars in all the world, it had to be mine!? Backing up, he grabbed his staff from the wall and considered the price of using the fel to fight this unseen foe. He was trying to give it up, or at least, he thought he was. What choice is there, though? If some elf is in my bar, taking the eyes from my customers, there had to be something-- "Hey handsome," came the familiar voice of the Ferraki, suddenly appearing in front of his bar along with the limp body of a night elf female, her knife sticking half-way into the elf's throat. "Look what I brought you." For once, it didn't matter if she was actually flirting or if she was just being tease. Tahzani stared at the two, sand troll and night elf, then shook his head and waved a hand toward the nearest bar stool. "T'anks fo' da help," he said with the hint of a smile. "Next drink be on me."
  47. 1 point
    When Vilmah had been tasked with brokering peace between two centaur clans out in the dead waste of Desolace, the last thing she expected was for the meetings to take place at the base of a massive waterfall. Instead of grey, dingy dust and dry bones littering the ground, she was welcomed by a gentle glow of greenery and the cries of living beasts. That sound was comforting, but she had to listen hard for it over the ever-present clangor of the huge fall. The place wasn’t clear of the presence of death, however. The stink of it lingered wherever the clansmen tread. This place was a haven for them, like Shattrath or Dalaran was for the Alliance and Horde. And just like those grand cities, this place was rife with dirty looks and murderous intent. And then, of course, there was the actual dead man accompanying Vilmah. He followed her like a cold shadow, closed-lipped and soft-footed. It was disquieting, but she’d rather have someone to accompany her to this land of hostility, even if it had to be someone like Georgio. “Don’t see something like that every day,” Vilmah said wistfully. “Not usually.” Georgio spoke little, and so softly it came as a whisper. Vilmah scratched one of the scars on her neck. “Where are you from, again, Georgio?” “Brill, after the turn. Before, the city.” “The city…you mean the capital city?” “Yes. I preferred it as it once was, not so as it is now.” “I see.” She could understand that. From all Vilmah had heard of the Second War from its survivors, the capital of Lordaeron had been like a fearsome beast no hunter could bring down. The Horde had come close, only to be broken against its dreaded walls and scattered across the northern kingdoms like blades of grass before a gardener’s scythe. It had been a city to be proud of. And then Arthas. Her thoughts always seemed to lead back to death eventually. Even in this peaceful place, there was no peace from death. Beyond all else, she felt tired. “I think I’ll turn in for the night, Georgio. It was a long ride, and the greetings seemed to stretch on forever…” The ceremonial greetings had been a lavish affair with every respectful ritual possible. And Vilmah had endured them twice, one for each of the centaur clans. Things would be much easier if they worked together. I guess that’s why we’re here. “Centaurs are sticklers for tradition. Keep that in mind tomorrow.” Georgio began to slink off towards the circle of tents that marked the moving city of the beast-men. The tents were clearly divided between those stitched of quillboar skin painted red and those of gnoll skin painted green. Centaurs preferred to display their more impressive kills, so Vilmah had learned. “Georgio,” Vilmah called out. The Forsaken turned about, his bright yellow eyes burrowing under the orcess’s skin. “You’ve worked with these clans before, right? Have they ever gathered like this without coming to violence?” His dead flesh twisted in something resembling discomfort. “Not for years and years, Vilmah Bloodborne. I’d suggest you get a good night’s sleep.” As he slipped into the darkness like a specter, Vilmah promised herself she would do as he warned. --- “It is a great honor to have you here, Vilmah Bloodborne,” the translator said, his voice scratchy and not pleased-sounding in the least. His master, a grey-bearded and one-eyed chieftain painted with bright-red markings, grunted in his own tongue while eyeing Vilmah as a carpenter measures a length of wood. After, he swept his arm over the wide array of food on his long, tall table. It stretched on for several feet in either direction and was lined with centaurs painted just as red, but more humbly than their chieftain. Vilmah felt half a fool sitting in the high chair while the chieftain and his entourage sat all around her. Georgio sat by her left hand, which made her feel a more comfortable. Not by much, but it counted for something. The translator spoke again, “Chieftain Gromul humbly offers this meager meal as a welcome from the Pakan people, ever friends of the Horde.” Georgio had told Vilmah of the Pakan clan’s history with the Horde. For years they defied the Horde’s presence in Desolace, especially around the coastline area they claimed as their sacred ground. They had been aggressors in a bloody three-way war between themselves, the Horde, and the third party present at this summit: the Komen. “If this is what the Pakan count as meager, then I hope to be invited to more feasts,” Vilmah said with a smile. The translator seemed unconvinced by her gratitude as he repeated her words in his tongue. Gromul, however, belched a laugh. “Small though this may be, you will find nothing near as great on the tables of the Komen. They have always been jealous of our wealth.” “Oh,” was all Vilmah thought to say. This was a delicate situation. Her every action could turn either side against her in a heartbeat. “Take care with such honest talk at the meeting today, Chieftain,” Georgio’s whispery voice said, “Remember when you last spoke of Komen wealth at one of these meetings?” “My chieftain says he remembers all too well,” the translator replied as the grey-bearded chieftain chuckled, “A glorious battle, and many Komen lay dead by his spear.” “And many Pakan as well,” the Forsaken replied with a shrug. “It was mine and Vilmah Bloodborne’s understanding that your people had bled long enough on the spears of your Komen cousins.” Vilmah gave Georgio a thankful smile. “Yes, and that is what brings us here,” the translator grunted. “And what brings you to us.” The remainder of the meal was all pleasantries and humble boasts. At times the chieftain or one of his chief raiders would mention the Komen in passing. Georgio even managed to coax a small praise from the chieftain’s eldest son. “The Komen,” he said, “Have proven hard to kill.” --- Vilmah’s apprehension about this meeting had grown steadily after the feast, and Georgio’s grim temperament did little to ease her nerves. “Remember to steer the conversation away from the Second Battle of Tall Grasses,” the undead reminded her for the fifth time that day, “The Pakan are still sore about that loss, and they are like to grow more heated if it is discussed.” “Georgio?” Vilmah interjected carefully. The man’s wrinkled grey face watched her impassively. “Why haven’t we discussed the peace terms? Shouldn’t I know what sort of reaction to expect from that? Why all the talk about battles and faux pas?” “Because we can control the conversation until the terms are spoken.” “What happens after?” “One of two things. They’ll either erupt into a full-blown battle then and there, or they’ll simply leave the meeting feeling cheated and sour, but at peace nonetheless. All we can do at that point is hope for the best.” Vilmah rubbed her temples irritably. “I think I need some fresh air. How long until the meeting?” “One hour. I would be quick were I you.” She departed from their shared tent – which Georgio never used, leading Vilmah to suspect he did not sleep at all – and walked around the ring of tents. All around her she saw Komen and Pakan, two sides of the same coin to her eyes. One was painted green and the other red and either used different skins for their tents and clothes, but otherwise they were indistinguishable to her eyes. It made her heart sink to imagine these people, who should have been kin, killing each other for generations. “Excuse me, miss?” a voice as clear as running water called after Vilmah. She turned to see a rather small centaur clopping after her. Even more surprising than his voice and size – he was handsome. His long, dark hair was tied back in a neat bun, his eyes were green as grass, and his features were softer and cleaner than the other centaurs Vilmah had met. She noted his green body paint arranged in intricate patterns, a sign of the Komen. “What can I do for you?” she asked politely. “Well, it is embarrassing,” he said with a strange boyish innocence to his tone, “I fear I’ve lost my favorite quill. It is made from the feather of a thunder bird, about this long.” He indicated with his fingers. “A thunder bird? I don’t think I’ve heard of that.” “It is native to these lands, and sacred to my people. They are incredibly rare, but we sometimes train them to hunt or to tell when bad weather is coming.” Vilmah’s eyebrow lifted. “They can predict weather?” “Indeed they can. They can even pass through thunderstorms without fear of lightning. The feather is brown and white, like the hair of a centaur. You haven’t seen a feather about like that, have you?” She shook her head. “Sorry.” “Ah, it is no bother. I will use a spare for the meeting.” “You will be attending?” “Oh yes. I am Chief Vlambok’s youngest son, and the most literate. I am Varamor; I serve as translator and scribe.” Only then did Vilmah realize they had been speaking Orcish. “Ah, that makes sense.” She chuckled. “Well met, Varamor. I am Vilmah Bloodborne. You speak my tongue rather well.” He inclined his head appreciatively “It is a noble tongue, and I have always had a passion for things from faraway lands.” His green eyes drifted to Vilmah’s left arm. She had grown used to the stares her prosthetic received, but she couldn’t help but notice when Varamor’s eyes moved. They were like emeralds when they caught the midday light. “Perhaps later we can discuss our cultures with each other,” Vilmah offered. “Yes, I would like that,” Varamor said. “For now, my search continues. A pleasure to meet you, Vilmah Bloodborne.” He trotted off gracefully, scanning the ground as he went. Strangely, Vilmah began to feel better about the upcoming meeting. At least one person there won’t be unreasonable. --- “My chieftain finds these terms absolutely unacceptable,” The Pakan translator barked not a moment after Vilmah had concluded reading them. The red side of the negotiating table rumbled to life with grunted complaints and insults. Though Vilmah could not understand them, it was plain to see how displeased they were. The Komen on the green half of the long table stood quietly around their chieftain, Vlambok. The old centaur’s beard was long, braided, and white as snow, and his eyes were as green as his son’s. Varamor watched Vilmah, his face flushed with sympathy, as he scratched notes on his clay tablet. “How can the Horde expect the Pakan to accept a peace that so blatantly benefits the Komen? We would lose our most valuable boneyard, a stretch of field where we harvest our red paints, and half of our bountiful hunting grounds!” Vilmah cleared her throat and replied, “That is the only price the Komen will agree to for the lands you fervently argued over in the Desolate War. In return for the boneyard, flower field, and hunting grounds, you will have unrestricted access to Horde ports along the coast and a lump sum payment of sixty thousand gold as blood pay for the lives lost in war.” “The Pakan will never sell the lives of our fallen warriors for so cheap!” Vlambok muttered something in his tongue, so quiet he made Georgio sound like a Warsong. Varamor had to lean in close to hear and translate. “My father wishes it to be known that Komen lives were lost in even greater numbers than Pakan in the war. The lands we desire will be sufficient to honor their spirits.” The red chief Gromul spat on the table, ushering shocked and angry roars from the Komen side. “That is what my chieftain thinks of your dead Komen weaklings.” Vilmah glanced at Georgio as the table erupted into cries of hatred. The undead sat deep in his tall chair and cleaned his fingernails. This is ridiculous! I won’t just sit here and do nothing! A veiled, green-painted centaur woman stomped across the dividing line of the table and punched a red centaur in the teeth. The two fell over each other in a heap, strong legs flailing and budging the table aside. Vilmah felt trapped when the wooden edge scraped against her chair. Chief Vlambok slapped his hand against the table and cried out at his people, though Vilmah could not tell if he was urging them to stop or fight on. She had no such uncertainty about the red chief. Gromul stood with a smug look on his face while his warriors shouted and shoved at the green centaurs. Vilmah roared and shoved the table off her chair, sending a few surprised centaurs stumbling away. Then she slammed down on the red and green surface as hard as she could with her metal arm. She felt the wood bend beneath the force of her strike, causing such a crash that every centaur in the room looked at her, aside from those still wrestling on the floor. “ENOUGH!” she shouted, “There has been enough blood spilled between the three of us to fill an ocean! And yet here you all stand, you proud and haughty warriors, having forgotten so soon what death tastes like!” The red chief grunted defiantly, though not so confidently as before, “The Pakan cannot accept a peace so poor. It would be like pissing on the pyres of our ancestors.” Varamor spoke his father’s words calmly, though Vilmah detected a hint of reluctance “We Komen are ready to lay down our spears for this peace. My father…wishes to offer me as a marriage prospect to seal the deal in blood as well as words.” This ushered new grumbles from both sides, but not all sounded displeased. Vilmah realized she was standing on her chair, her metal arm buried in the thick wooden table. She seated herself, feeling her face flush. “Not bad, orc,” Georgio whispered. Vilmah smiled embarrassedly. Gromul stroked his greying beard thoughtfully. The room quieted when he prepared to speak. “If we are to agree, my chieftain’s grandsons will owe allegiance to him alone.” The green centaurs looked none too pleased at that, but Vlambok merely nodded. Varamor kept his fair face guarded. Vilmah could not begin to imagine what he must be thinking. “We shall consider this offer further,” the red translator said, “We shall retire for now to think over the terms and meet here again tomorrow.” By the time he had finished translating, half of the red centaurs had cleared from the long, tented table. Vilmah released a tense breath and sank into her chair. She eyed the shattered ruin of the table before her, half aware of Georgio slinking off with a brief congratulation on surviving the first day. A shadow fell on her as she lost herself in thought. Vilmah looked up to see Varamor smiling sadly at her. “Today did not go quite as expected, no?” “No, not quite,” she replied, “Honestly, I thought it would be worse.” He chuckled. His laugh was clear and beautiful, like waves lapping at the shore. “You must have heard some stories about our previous summits. In my youth, I witnessed a hundred brawls between my brothers and Gromul’s sons. But alas, now only his sons attend.” “What happened to your brothers?” “The war. All but my oldest brother perished, and one of his legs was lamed. Now my sons will be pledged to Pakan should this peace be settled. My father’s blood runs thin.” His green eyes looked forlorn at the broken table, red and green wood chips intermixing like a cataclysm of blood and grass. Vilmah felt strangely guilty. A green centaur clomped into the tent, yelling frantically in Varamor’s tongue. The young Komen looked shocked but shouted quick commands with confidence. The warrior ran off at a gallop. “Vilmah Bloodborne, the campsite is under attack by quillboar clansmen! I must see to my father’s safety.” “Let me help you!” Vilmah shouted suddenly, hopping to her feet. She carried no weapons, yet she could still fight. “Very well. On my back!” She followed his directions, and together they raced out into the camp as it devolved into chaos. The quillboar had attacked on the green side of the camp, and thus far only the Komen had engaged them in battle. Vilmah spied a pair of spears dug into the earth and pointed Varamor towards them. They both took one up as they raced on to battle. Chieftain Vlambok’s white beard was easy to spot from a distance. He stood surrounded by his fiercest spearmen, who were in turn surrounded by quillboar and their war hounds. Varamor shouted encouraging words to his people and led a charge at the quillboar line. The prickly creatures scattered in an instant. Few smaller than a tauren would stand against the charge of centaur, Vilmah thought. Once Vlambok was free of his attackers, he embraced his son and clapped Vilmah on the shoulder, saying a few words. “He offers you thanks, Vilmah,” Varamor reported. “Tell him to hold his thanks until the enemy is routed.” The green chief seemed to like that. Varamor took a deep breath as they began to charge the enemy once again. “I must warn you, Vilmah, I am no talented fighter. My brothers would have been more use here.” Vilmah patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t think about that. Focus on the here and now. One enemy at a time. Focus on now, and it will be over before you know it.” He seemed to gain confidence at that. The line of centaur grew as Varamor rallied loose spearmen to follow. By the time they crashed against the quillboar line, the young centaur was screaming a warsong alongside his brethren, and his song was the most haunting of all. --- Night was falling. After the battle, Vilmah walked the field of the dead, seeing quillboar bodies and centaurs painted green scattered everywhere. She looked hard for Pakan markings but found none. Once she thought she had found a pack of them, only to discover that the red was made by splatters of blood. “They didn’t even try to aid us,” Varamor said, giving words to Vilmah’s thoughts. “Though what more could be expected from those savages?” “Perhaps they didn’t want to cause further panic,” Vilmah offered feebly. Varamor sighed. “My father will do nothing. It is clear those blood-hided monsters had something to do with this. The quillboar have never been so bold as to attack us with all their strength.” He trotted off towards his father’s tent. “Come, Vilmah. I am certain my father will have a place for you.” Feeling uncertain, Vilmah jogged after him. The green-painted warriors were bickering angrily in the chief’s tent when they arrived. Vlambok looked somehow even older than before. Varamor was waved to his father’s side, and Vilmah alongside him. “What are they saying, Varamor?” she asked when they took their places. “The obvious. The Pakan are liars and traitors and should be dealt with in kind.” And break the peace we came to forge. And here I thought we were so close. Vilmah said nothing, only listening as Varamor translated. “Chalwar, father’s prime warlord, says we should attack at once, so to catch them off guard. Gulin, our storm witch, claims this to be folly, as the red brutes would expect such a response. My father urges patience, as always.” “What do you think we should do?” Vilmah looked up at his eyes, so full of life, and uncertainty also. “I don’t know. My mind tells me that we need this peace, but my heart says we should never bend our legs to those murderers.” She understood him. She had felt such pain before. That only made it harder to tell him, “If your people should choose war with the Pakan, I will not be able to help. I came here to make peace, not pull the Horde into war again.” “I know,” he said sadly. He continued to translate for her, but the discussion only led around in circles for hours on end. At long last, the green chief beseeched his people to tend to the dead, set sentries in case of further attacks, and hold the peace until morning. “In the meantime, my father will sleep like the dead. I fear his strength is waning, and Chief Gromul knows it.” Vilmah departed the tent feeling sore from riding, tired from fighting, and restless with anger. The Pakan are bullies, it is plain to see. Yet I cannot stand against them. Surely there must be something… “Orc woman!” a voice called out, thick with the accent of the Komen. Vilmah looked to the incoming centaur, painted green, and carrying a body in his arms. A bipedal body…Georgio! “What happened?” she demanded. “He found in battle,” the centaur said in simple Orcish, “Quillboar spear in neck.” Vilmah examined the wound. A spearhead still lay in his throat. Georgio opened his eyes and saw her, but when he tried to speak he spat green blood in her face. “Hush, Georgio,” she said calmly, “You’re going to be alright. Komen, healer!” The centaur seemed to understand her, and he raced off. The undead shook his head. He twisted free of Vilmah’s grip and started scratching something in the dirt. Vilmah read it as he wrote. “Not quillboar…are you saying someone else attacked you?” Georgio nodded. “Who, then? Was it the Pakan?” He began scratching out a response, but the Komen returned with a healer, and he scraped mud over his work. Does he not trust the Komen? What happened to you, Georgio? The healer took the undead into his tent and gestured for Vilmah to stay outside. It was far too crowded to try and sneak in, so she did as she was bid. If Georgio couldn’t trust the Komen, then he must have been attacked by one of them. But why? Vilmah shivered as the night grew cold. She knew one thing for certain: if one Horde diplomat had been attacked, the other would be in danger as well. She made her way to her tent to retrieve her sword and shield. “If they come after me, this won’t be enough,” she muttered to herself as she tied on her swordbelt. If there was one person she knew she could trust, it was Varamor. She made for his tent at a quick pace, keeping to the shadows as much as possible. When she arrived, the chief’s son was nowhere to be seen, though the entrance to his tent was guarded. She snuck around to the darkest side and crawled beneath the hide wall. I hope he doesn’t take offense to my intrusion, but I’m sure he’ll understand since it is a matter of life and death. The most striking feature of the tent was the finely polished desk sitting in the center, covered with heaps of papyrus and parchment and clay and stone tablets. They were written on in dozens of languages, including Orcish and the bizarre script of the Qiraji Vilmah was somewhat familiar with. She spied all sorts of writing utensils as well. There were styluses for the clay tablets and chisels for the stone, inkpots and quills of every color imaginable, and even metal-case fountain pens. The collection was laid out neatly, showing pride in something uncommon among Varamor’s people. It brought a smile to Vilmah’s face. And then she noticed a prominent feature: a great brown and white feather marked with little frills of green. “Thunder bird…” Vilmah muttered quietly. He had said it was lost, yet here it was. Curious, she sifted through some of the writings, focusing on the Orcish script. There were many poems, and all of them mournful. Some even made Vilmah’s heart stir and her eyes blink to hold back wetness. The saddest of all spoke of the pain of loss. The loss of love. “I lost you to red storm, my love…” she read aloud. “And to red storm my vengeful heart is cast.” Varamor’s voice made Vilmah jump. “That was the hardest for me to write, but I made myself write it over and over, in every language I knew how.” “You…you were in love, but the war…” “Yes, the war. It took everything, as wars do. But it was the Pakan that did the taking, and the Komen that gave all. You saw them all today. You saw all of Gromul’s sons, hale and healthy.” “But not your brothers.” “Nor my sweet love, Leyanah. She was named for a gentle spring flower. But flowers do not live when the red storm comes.” His green eyes were glassy before he shut them. Vilmah shifted uncomfortably. “I…I’m sorry.” “You have no reason to be. It is the Pakan who should be sorry, but the truly guilty never are.” “There is still a chance for peace, Varamor. You know that, don’t you?” “No. I gave up on that dream when my spring flower was taken from me. Now all that is left is war. The only true chances for peace are in your death, or that of your enemy.” His fine, mournful features now appeared sinister in the low light. But above all, he looked desperate. “Why did you attack Georgio?” “I’ve known the undead for a long while. He is dutiful, and his heart is closed. He could never be convinced, so I had him was silenced.” “Convinced of what?” “That my people are not afflicted by the same evil as the Pakan. But you, Vilmah, you could bring the tale of what you’ve seen here back to Orgimmar. You could tell all the Horde that the Komen are a people worth fighting for. I could never hope to win a war against the Pakan myself, but that will not stop me from trying.” A horrid thought crossed Vilmah’s mind. It hurt even to think it, but she had to ask. “The quillboar, that was you as well?” “A simple enough trick. You’ve seen the Pakan tents with quillboar skin and needles. The red savages have done the same to us with gnolls in the past.” He shook his gnoll-tooth necklace pointedly. Vilmah glared. “You brought your own people to harm…” “There was no other way! My father would do anything, even sell me, to prevent further war.” Vilmah eyed him desperately. “Don’t you see what you’re becoming, Varamor? This warmongering…you’re becoming the very thing you hate so much!” He shook his head sadly. “There is no other way. I had hoped you would see.” He walked to the entrance of his tent and dropped a totem on the ground. Vilmah started after him. “Varamor, I won’t let you—” A shock ran through her body and she fell back from the entrance. The centaur looked at her pitifully. “Don’t try to struggle against the storm, Vilmah Bloodborne. It only hurts worse if you do.” Vilmah drew her sword. “Release me, Varamor!” she shouted, but he was already galloping away. “Varamor!” She swung her sword, only to feel the shock again, this time driving her arm numb. She gasped. The air was growing thin around her; she could not breathe. Desperately, she tried to push through the invisible wall with her metal arm, but the shocks made her heart flutter uncontrollably. She flung herself back and gulped what air she could, feeling her vision fog up. Her thoughts went to old friends, old enemies, and old kills. She saw smiles and skulls and blood. She heard cries of friendship, cries of hatred, and cries for mercy. Guilt tugged at her like a bird’s talons. Guilt at failing, and at leaving people behind that she’d sworn to help. She felt guilt for not stopping those who hurt her friends, and guilt for killing those that did not deserve to die. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Just close my eyes, and the guilt goes away… Her eyes flashed open. She spasmed for breath that would not come, but she forced herself to focus. Focus on one enemy, then the next… She grabbed the nearby desk to help herself up and clumsily spilled half of its contents to the floor. She picked up her sword and threw it at the totem, but the invisible wall stopped it short with a crackle of lightning. Vilmah nearly fell over with the effort but supported herself on one knee. Her hand brushed a feather. Thunder bird! She thought desperately. The brown and white feather looked only like a smudge of colors in her hand as she crawled her way to the tent entrance. She gripped the end of the quill and pushed the pointed tip through. The wall crackled around the feather, and she felt the hot numbness take hold of her arm, but the feather did not stop. The tip touched the totem’s surface just as she faded to black… Light came rushing back, and air filled Vilmah’s lungs. No breath had ever tasted so sweet. Her eyes refocused, and she saw the totem was knocked over. She tested the air of the tent entrance and found she could pass through. She gathered her sword and shield and sprinted clumsily. She was no huntress, but she could see the freshest tracks led through camp towards the massive waterfall. She spotted Varamor and a small warband at the start of the hill road and knew she could not catch up to them before they reached the summit. With bows in hand, they have a perfect vantage point to rain death on the Pakan. And when the red centaurs take up arms, the sentries in the Komen camp will have no choice but to take up arms as well. Vilmah knew she had to reach the top before that happened. She sprinted to the base of the hill, found the driest stretch of rock, and began climbing. The road up to the top was long, roundabout, and winding. She knew that from her long ride down to the camp. The climb up was straightforward, but it would take a great deal of strength to outpace centaur legs. I have no other choice. Dawn will break before the reach the summit. She would just have to rise faster than the sun. --- She clawed up the last few feet, her heart a lump in her throat, as the sun’s first light brushed her back. Her muscles were jelly, her fingers covered in cuts and blisters, her metal arm was almost too heavy to carry, and her lungs were stretched thin from breathing hard, but she was alone at the top. I made it in time. She seated herself with her sword in her lap, as was the custom of a Blademaster. She steadied her breath and let her stamina return. As she waited, she listened to the thrum of the waterfall, as she had all night long. She felt the sun lick at her neck, and the sweat pour down her brow. She felt alive. Nervousness faded away as the quiet of battle took hold in her mind. Varamor crested the hill with a bow in one hand and a quiver of arrows over his shoulder. When he spotted Vilmah, he gaped at her like a guilty child stumbling into his parent. She stood, blade in hand and shield strapped to her metal arm. “I’m giving you one last chance, Varamor,” she called out to him, “Go back and give peace a chance.” “I must do this, Vilmah. For my people.” His warband climbed the hill and took positions around him, bows trained on Vilmah. She lifted her shield and hoped her plan would work. “If you want to prove yourself, fight me alone.” “I am no great fool to think I would have a chance against you alone, Vilmah Bloodborne. Else I would have dealt with you more directly before.” He called a command to his warriors and they advanced in three groups of two, two from the sides and one directly. So much for that idea. Time to improvise. The flankers drew bows and loosed while the direct charge readied their spears. Vilmah ducked down and lifted her shield over her head. The arrows flew faster than lighting. Two ricocheted off her shield, while the others bit through flesh. One scraped by and did not stick, but the fourth dug into her leg. She growled and leaped forward to meet the spearmen. Seems I am the fool who stands against charging centaur now, she thought dimly. Her shield caught one spear and she grappled the centaur into the other as the second spear sliced open her arm. Her sword arm fell limply, so she bashed the two centaurs with her shield to incapacitate them. Then she used their bodies to cover herself from the other warriors’ arrows. They circled her, but she kept herself covered in every direction. She felt like a beast caught in a trap, but the bowmen dared not come any closer. “I’ll give you the same honor you gave me, Vilmah,” Varamor said, “Throw down your shield, and I will spare you.” Vilmah growled back ferally, “You’re lying. You can’t have me live to tell the Horde you were the aggressor. If I die, you can claim the Pakan did me in.” “You are as sharp of mind as you are with sword. But that won’t—” “VARAMOR!” The chief’s son whirled around as the green chief himself thundered to the top of the slope, his own noble guardians in tow. Varamor gaped at him and said a word Vilmah recognized, the Komen word for “father.” The two screamed back and forth, but Vilmah could not follow their conversation. She focused on binding up her wounds in case she needed to defend herself again. Vlambok approached Varamor carefully, his arms outstretched. Varamor was weeping now. He screamed another word Vilmah recognized and wheeled about, charging towards the cliffside with his bow at the ready. He screamed the same word again and again as he readied his arrow. His bowmen looked uncertain, but at a word from the chief, they threw down their bows and knelt. Varamor never slowed. Vilmah sprang into his path, her shot leg throbbing painfully. Her wounded arm still hung limply, so she left her sword behind and readied her shield. Varamor charged straight ahead, his green eyes turned to a vile shade of poison where once they had been grass. All around her became the thundering of hooves and the crash of the waterfall. He screamed his warcry and aimed a shot at Vilmah. The orcess ducked down and the arrow thudded into her shield. She charged forward and slammed the shield down with all the strength she had left. The force of his leg hitting the wood and metal splintered her shield and yanked her metal arm clear off her stump, but Varamor went down in a heap. Then Vlambok’s guardians ran in and held him down with their strong forelegs. All the while, the chief’s son screamed in agony his word of desperation, and Vilmah felt only pity and pain. “LEYANAH!” he yelled as his legs, bent and broken, flailed in the air. --- Chief Vlambok came to visit Vilmah in her infirmary bed two days later. By then, she had told Georgio all of what had happened, and the undead could manage a few grunting words. Mostly he said “Damn.” Vilmah stood shakily with a crutch when Vlambok entered the tent. He waved for her to sit, and he himself knelt alongside her. A new translator stood to say his words in Orcish. “My chief says that his heart weighs heavily on his son’s downfall. But he thanks you as well for putting an end to his scheme.” Vilmah lowered her head humbly, not feeling particularly praiseworthy. “I am sorry for your losses, Chieftain. Will the Pakan listen to further offers of peace?” “That is a more difficult matter. Word has gotten out of what young Varamor intended, and the Pakan curse the Komen name with much fervor. They demand we turn over Varamor as prisoner to face Gromul’s justice.” Vilmah looked at Vlambok, shocked and apologetic. “They’ll kill him…” “Yes, my chieftain knows this. Yet what alternative exists? To go to war?” “That would not end well for anyone.” “Exactly as my chieftain thinks. But what kind of man is a chief who betrays his own son to his death so that his winter days might be peaceful?” Vilmah had no reply to that. There is no right answer here. In every direction pain ways, only in some there is less pain than others. But Vlambok watched her expectantly. Desperately, even. She saw the same painful hope in his eyes that she saw in his son’s. He needs my answer. He cannot make the choice, so he asks it of me instead. She took a deep breath. “Chieftain, I only came here with one goal: to make peace. At times to reach that goal one must first make war. I know it seems like trying to go west by walking east, but nothing in life is straightforward. We can never tell if we are walking the right way, but we keep on because to turn back is to give up. “Varamor turned away from the path, but you still have a chance to keep your people from straying. You can still try.” His nod was slow and painful to watch. His head fell, and he seemed to grow a hundred years older all at once. Vilmah’s heart ached worse than her wounds. “My chieftain thanks you for your words, Vilmah Bloodborne. The peace talks will resume tomorrow. He gives you his word.” Vilmah shrank back onto the furs and tried to rest, but her mind would not quiet. Georgio sat up in his furs and looked at her with his wrinkled, grey face. “Damn,” he said. “Yeah,” said Vilmah. “Damn.”
  48. 1 point
    Steinburg had been in Undercity for a few months, now. First he came to visit some old friends. It surprised him to discover that the librarians who once helped him find books on Lordaeron’s history were, along with the books, no longer there. When he asked about their whereabouts, he received roundabout answers. They were “no longer necessary”. Whether this was an answer about the books or his friends, he did not press further. During his search however, he discovered that the Undercity was undergoing a slight transformation. In the absence of the Dark Lady, a council of Undercity’s most active volunteers had been created. Steinburg did not know them personally, but he admired their willingness to pick up what Sylvanas had left behind, and to do so with seemingly no personal gain. Damian being old enough to attend school in Dalaran made his decision clear, and as a proud Forsaken, he volunteered to help. A good bookkeeper, he was immediately tasked with keeping track of the city’s funds. It was a thankless job, and he was not well known, but that didn’t bother him. Day and night he tirelessly worked to ensure that the Desolate Council was successful. Until one day, most of them were gone. Now things were different. He wasn’t so much a volunteer as a prisoner, and he understood the meaning of the word “dissent”. All around Undercity, Sylvanas had eyes and ears. Long ones, specifically. The ears of her dark rangers were everywhere, waiting to hear the rumors and report them. He was an accountant, he could calculate the numbers and the odds of his own survival in such a situation. If he had a big mouth, those odds weren’t good. Quiet as he was, however, he could live. That was how he managed to get back to the small apartment he’d been renting in the Undercity, though “rent” was mostly paid by him working for free. The single bedroom, tucked inside of a corridor of the Magic Quarter, was furnished only with a few clothes. Unsurprisingly there was no bed. The Forsaken embraced their wakefulness, their lack of restrictions that the living depended on. A bed would have been suspicious. He might have been accused of wanting to be alive, of trying to relive memories of the past. Once, those things were not quite so looked down upon. Strange, maybe. Now they were looked at with suspicion. The dead had no reason to want anything to do with their former lives, and to go by your “dead name” was to invite too many questions. Luckily for Steinburg, nobody seemed to care that he went by his surname. Though maybe, had he requested that they call him “Andy”, things might have been different. His apartment, sparse as it was, served only the purpose of granting him a place to read in silence. He was expected to work most of the time, but was granted a few hours of “rest” by his supervisor. During these hours, he would go to his apartment and sit down in his single chair. He might read a book or write a letter to the Bloodstones. Today, he opened his closet, and very quietly, cast a spell. A portal. It would not last long, and he was in a hurry. Stepping through the portal, Steinburg understood that he was probably not going to be able to return to the Undercity. They would say he deserted them, abandoned his duties, and be labeled a traitor. All well and good, he supposed. For a second chance at life, he could hardly call existing there under the eye of the dark rangers any sort of living. All was bright as he stepped through, suddenly bathed in sunlight and warm colors. Silvermoon welcomed him as it always did, though he was still suspicious of Sylvanas’ former home. Would she have spies there, too? Or was Lor’themar unwilling to allow such a thing? His yellow eyes glanced about for someone, and with a great sigh of relief he saw her. “Catalinetta,” he said to the death knight, who had apparently waited for him near the portal from Undercity. Shambling over to her, he embraced Cat with a tight hug. It was not a happy one, but the desperate sad sort of hug she could feel in her own bones. “Steinburg, what the hell happened?” She asked, pulling away reluctantly. “Not here,” he answered, looking around. “We need to get to Bloodstone Manor.” Cat shook her head, still confused. “Bloodstone Manor? Why?” Trudging out into the street, Steinburg reached for his hood and threw it over his head. Now she could see how ashamed he was of his appearance, and the old Steinburg had finally returned. “Because there are ears everywhere, and most are as long as yours.”
  49. 1 point
    Syreena frowns when asked about Kerala. "I'm still not sure what to think of her. She has silly notions of honor that I can't understand. She offered herself to Awatu as a Supplicant because of some ancient Tauren honor thing, but she's planning to leave us again after only a couple months. She squashed my head once, but I don't really remember it very clearly." After a pause, Syreena adds, "Also, she's so skinny! She looks like she never eats!"
  50. 1 point
    I’ve practiced a somewhat unorthodox form of RP since I rolled Malebrignon on the first day of Twisting Nether’s operation. It is a light-hearted form of “heavy” roleplay. The basic premise, which I often refer to as Ninja RP, is that everything can be roleplayed. All the game mechanics, including repetitious death and corpse-camping, can be treated as in-character concepts. Nothing requires storylines or events. You just choose to “be” your character. Here are some “rules” of Ninja RP. --- Treat everything said in /say as IC, even when it’s obviously OOC. If it’s too OOC for you to Role with, like “I just saw Spider Man 3. MJ dies at the end!”, well, that person would go on my ignore list. (That's not a SM3 spoiler. It's an example.) --- Do not /ignore other roleplayers no matter how much you don’t like them. If they are making an effort to be a character on the server and not just another “lawl RP” asshat, then you cannot pretend they don’t exist. --- Don’t tell other people how to RP. Just “role” with it. I hate seeing “lol” and “zomg” come out of RP’rs even if it’s OOC, but the fact is those words are said so much in our online society that you can simply treat them as words. “Lol” means something was funny to that person and you can react accordingly instead of sending them a tell saying {{“Listen, guy, LOL is not RP.”}} --- RP Everything. I can’t say it enough. What the hell do you mean that raid symbols break your immersion? I don’t know anything about raid symbols. I carry a box of enchanted gems which create magical markings above our targets so it’s easier to delineate who we should attack and in what order. If you don’t want me to use them, tough. I haven’t invested all this time, money, and research into enchanting for nothing! --- Acknowledge that the realm does not revolve around YOU. It revolves around ME! Well, not really, but not you either. There’s a good chance that nobody read your story/poem/art/character bio or is aware of your current plotline if you have one going. It is up to YOU to get them involved and bring them up to speed if necessary. It’s also up to you to acknowledge their own storylines if you want them involved in yours. This one is just good advice. --- You don’t always need a storyline. It really is okay to just “be”. Brig’s current “storyline” involves little more than shaping up his troops and plundering Medivh’s tower. I don’t need a driving goal past that. I am always in-character. --- RP is something you do while actually playing the game. This is the one that most people don’t seem to like. I know a huge amount of RP’rs that seem to think RP is something you only do in a town, at an event, or at other times and locations that don’t involve fighting. Is it really that hard to be in-character AND play the game? Now, this does not mean you shouldn’t stop for a swim and maybe some sunbathing while you visit with friends in Booty Bay, but it does mean that you shouldn’t go OOC the moment you put on your battle gear and leave town. --- RP Everything. I’ll say it again. Don’t take it to OOC until you just can’t conceive of RP reasoning anymore. Everything can be RP’d with a bit of creativity. It really can. Abric can show you the way on this one. Ask him to find time to include you in one of his groups and watch the show. It will give you “#1 you love it happy day joy”. --- If you’ve just plain gotta be OOC, there’s always Teamspeak/Vent. Then you can have the best of both worlds. You can RP in /p or /ra and keep your OOC chatter to TS. Unless, of course, someone has to be a ninny and won’t use their microphone. You know who you are. --- Set RP rules if you gotta. Chances are, I’ll stay IC for the most part even if you tell me that party/raid chat is OOC, but it never hurts to tell people up front. Unless it’s in /say or /y, I don’t recommend assuming something is IC. Tells and whispers are much the same. The Ninja will treat everything said to them as IC unless it’s declared otherwise. (( Put it in the brackets, dammit.)) --- Learn to Play. There are hundreds of other outlets for text-based RP if that's really all you are interested in doing. If you've been level 70 for three months and are still wearing level 62 greens.... you need to play the game. Don't make your friends carry you along, and they will if they love to RP with you. Ask questions. Keep it IC if you can; I could totally have an IC discussion about shadowpriest spell rotations in raiding. Take it to OOC if you need to. Don't tell me you're a great and powerful wizard when your average DPS is 135. --- Play the Game. Don't tell me "well, my character wouldn't do that". Find a damn reason to do it. Work with your RP buddies to make it happen. Use a little OOC arrangement if you have to do so. Don't short-change your WoW experience because "I can't do that IC." RP is all about creativity; create a reason you CAN do that. It's really that simple. I spent over a year saying "Raiding isn't RP. You can't RP raids." and all sorts of other stupid crap like that. I realized, eventually, that you can do anything you want in the game and RP it. I’m sure I’ll edit this to add some more ideas at some point, but this is a good start and I’d love to hear what others think of this. It might also help some of you understand why I can be kinda difficult to deal with. I do my best to adapt to others and hope they’ll do the same for me. A good majority of the folks I tend to talk to in-game operate under these guidelines, too. At least, I pretend that they do. There really is no point to this posting other than to make you read my preferred method of RP. I’ve done stricter, storyline-driven “heavy RP” before, but it got too involved and depressing at times. It bled into real life. This is a great way to RP and let it start and stop with the game itself. Hope someone finds something here useful. If nothing else, tell me how you role!